“The Hound of Heaven”: God’s Pursuit of You

We often hear about our deep need for God, but I don’t think that we hear enough about His intense desire for us. Our relationship with God is a two-way street: we yearn for Him, but He yearns for us even more.

The relationship between God and a soul is revealed to us in Scripture as being like that of a lover and the beloved. The Song of Songs, a biblical love poem charged with the intensity of romantic feeling, gives us a reflection of the intensity of God’s love through the symbolic search of a man for the woman he loves. As the man pursues the woman, so much more does God seek us. As beautiful as human love may be, every marriage and romantic relationship is just an image of the love God for each of his children.

Francis Thompson’s autobiographical poem, The Hound of Heaven, provides another powerful image of God’s desire for each of us. Using the image of a hound pursuing a hare, Thompson describes how God sought him through the years despite his own resistance and fear:

I FLED Him, down the nights and down the days;
I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears
I hid from Him

He describes how he continuously fled from God, who never stopped calmly and lovingly pursuing. No matter where he went, Thompson could hear

…those strong Feet that followed, followed after.
But with unhurrying chase,
And unperturbèd pace,
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
They beat—and a Voice beat
More instant than the Feet—
‘All things betray thee, who betrayest Me.’

He runs and runs, seeking happiness in other things, until desperate and exhausted, he gives up, and surrenders to the persistent pursuit of God, who says to him,

‘And is thy earth so marred,
Shattered in shard on shard?
Lo, all things fly thee, for thou fliest Me!

Whom wilt thou find to love ignoble thee,
Save Me, save only Me? 
All which I took from thee I did but take,
Not for thy harms,
But just that thou might’st seek it in My arms.
All which thy child’s mistake
Fancies as lost, I have stored for thee at home:
Rise, clasp My hand, and come!’

We should never forget that God’s love for us is as intense as that of the lover in the Song of Songs, and as persistent as the the hound in The Hound of Heaven.

St. Augustine once wrote, “Our hearts are restless, Lord, until they rest in Thee.” We should remember that God Himself is restless for us as well.

Christ said, “I have come to set the world on fire, and how I wish it were already kindled!” (Luke 12:49)

These are the words of a God who loves you intensely,  and who will not rest until your heart is kindled with the fire of His love.

 

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