The Hound of Heaven

Francis Thompson was a poet who lived in the 19th century. He wrote a poem about God titled “The Hound of Heaven.” Although the title is shocking, when we read the poem, we realize that it paints an accurate picture of God as someone who follows us as the hound follows the hare, pursuing us with his amazing grace! Were it not true, many of us—including this author—would be lost in the wilderness forever.

I know that many of us are disappointed with God, some of us to the point where we have lost all faith in him. Others believe our sins make us unworthy to be in his presence, so we hide as Adam and Eve hid in the Garden of Eden. Still others are so enamored by the ways of the world we are blinded to the reality of his existence and scorn him. God doesn’t hold any of this against us. On the contrary, he pursues us with the relentless determination of the hound to bring us back to him and the eternal life he offers. Or, if you prefer, the lover who determinedly seeks to win the heart of his beloved.

If you ever wanted to know how determined God is to do this, we only need to read the heartbreaking story of Hosea and Gomer. God told Hosea, a prophet, to marry Gomer, a prostitute. Imagine! Despite having children together, Gomer was often unfaithful. Eventually, she got bored of living with Hosea and left him. Hosea kept searching for her, finally finding Gomer up for sale at a flesh auction. He “bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and about a homer and a lethek of barley” (Hosea 3:2). Gomer was rightfully his, but Hosea still had to pay to get her back. 

God had to pay to get us back, too, even though we belonged to him. And he did it, not with silver and barley, but with the blood of His Son! (see 1 Corinthians 6:20, Hebrews 9:12-14).

There is hope in this story for all of us. There is hope for those who have lost faith because of disappointment, for those who hide from God because of their sinfulness, or for those blinded by the bright lights of the world. Although we may turn away from God, God won’t turn away from us. He will seek us determinedly 

There is also hope in this story for those of us who are faithful to God but concerned about the world’s salvation. Let us not give up on the people around us because God won’t give up on them. If people can see love, mercy, and compassion in us, rather than judgementalism and condemnation, they will know that the God we believe in is like that as well and return to him in great numbers.

I believe this will happen soon. Are you ready to do your part? 

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