The Hound of Heaven

British poet, Francis Thompson, pictures God as the great pursuer in “The Hound of Heaven.” The title is striking. God relentlessly pursues us with a loving plan to save. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:1, 14). The one from heaven humbled himself and took on the form of a servant, “becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8, ESV). Yet, the poem pictures the flight of many.

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, and under running laughter.
Up vistaed hopes I sped;
And shot, precipitated,
Adown Titanic glooms of chasmed fears,
From 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.”

But why do we flee our Creator? The poem confesses, “Lest, having Him, I must have naught beside.” The desires of the world blind us to our true need, and so we run. Or maybe with our busy, noisy world we drown out the call to fill the God-sized hole in our lives.

The poem ends with God overshadowing the one who flees pleading:

“Ah, fondest, blindest, weakest,
I am He Whom thou seekest!
Thou dravest love from thee, who dravest Me.”

[“Drave” is archaic past tense for “drive” – the idea is driving away God from our life drives away love.]

God the seeker, the hound of heaven, is deep down what we seek. We may fill our life with other things…even good things. We may keep so busy that spiritual things are crowded out. Enough noise and busyness can silence spiritual hunger and thirst, but still leave it unsatiated and unquenched. God seeks us; we should seek Him.

“You have made us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.” Augustine, Confessions I. i.

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