I don’t know that I have ever read the poem, “The Hound of Heaven” before…though I have heard the phrase many a time. Yesterday, my family sat together at New Life Church in Colorado Springs after our weekend of celebrating our beloved brother Dan and his beautiful bride Amy in their wedding. Pastor Brady’s sermon was on Psalm 23:6.
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
He introduced this single verse as the whole of the gospel as it encapsulates our God’s unrelenting pursuit of the human heart—and how true is this the summary of the story! To illustrate this strength of this Divine Chase, he quoted a few lines from the famous poem, the Hound of Heaven. This morning I read the whole of it and how it moved my heart in portraying the unrelenting heart of Jesus, the Lover who chases each human heart into the wilderness, stripping us of our options, pressing upon the heart to loose its other grippings, all for the single intent of winning that heart solely to Himself. A few lines that struck me are as follows:
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
From those strong Feet that followed, followed after.
But with unhurrying chase, and unperturbed pace,
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
They beat—and a Voice beat
More instant than the Feet—
“All things betray thee, who betrayest Me.”
…Now of that long pursuit
Comes on at hand the bruit;
That Voice is round me like the bursting sea:
“And is thy earth so marred,
Shattered in shard on shard?
Lo, all things fly thee, for thou fliest Me!
Strange, piteous, futile thing,
Wherefore should any set thee love apart?
Seeing none but I makes much of naught,” He said,
“And human love needs human meriting,
How has thou merited—
Of all man’s clotted clay the dingiest clot?
Alack, thou knowest not
How worthy of any love thou art!
Whom wilt thou find to love ignoble thee
Save Me, save only Me?
Today I am chased by a vehement love, whose flames seek to extinguish every residue of resistance, every pocket of unbelief…and that unbelief mostly being in the incessant movement of His mercy, the piercing pursuit of His passion, the unrelenting nature of His love. When I think I have “known and believed His love for me (I Jn. 4:16)” I am struck again by yet another layer of unbelief…as the Faithful Beloved Jesus seeks to convince me still more and more. My days are designed with precision to entrap my false ideas of His heart, to snare any resistors that lie in my mind, my emotions, my deeply rooted beliefs. Every day He chases after me, with heavy feet and heaving heart. He will not be denied where He finds the faintest “yes.” He will not be resisted wherever He obtains the slightest reception. Love is not that I loved Him but that He loved me and sent His only Son. (1 Jn. 4:10). I have been chased down by an everlasting love…I have been sought out by a Man who is God in the flesh…I have been found by Him and He will never let me go…never stop His chase…never cease His pursuit…until every part of me agrees…every bit of me receives the excessive love that He pours out freely over me.