Does God Really Want You? -- and who is this Hound of Heaven? By Debra Torres
When I first met my husband, I wasn’t attracted to him at all. He was nearly ten years older than me and sported a full beard.
And when he began pursuing me, I hid – literally.
I was working with our campus newspaper back then and my husband knew just when and where I spent the bulk of my time. So often, he would show up while on some “errand” or another for his job.
I remember seeing the back of him in the hallway one day and decided to act fast and lose him, knowing that sooner or later he’d show up in my office for a “visit.”
And so I hightailed it down a back corridor and onto a secluded balcony where students and newspaper staff were busy on the computers.
Phew … I would be safe hidden back there until he left the building.
Or, so I thought.
It wasn’t long before he showed up on the balcony, glad to share a few minutes chatting with me.
How was it that he always seemed to find me? I wondered.
And to this day, I still wonder that. Oh, I’ve given up running from him. After I finally turned around and realized what a wonderful man he was, I was glad for the pursuit.
It’s interesting it how love works, isn’t it? I’m sure we all have our favorite romance stories in books, movies or real life. And they usually have one thing in common – there’s almost always a pursuit.
Recently, I’ve been reading the book, “Experiencing God,” and in it, the authors Henry T. Blackaby and Claude V. King, have uncovered something in God’s nature that I’ve never thought about before.
God is a pursuer.
It’s true when you really think about it. If you’re a Christian already, you probably remember those early days of your faith when your heart began to awaken and your ears became more sensitive to the voice of God.
I remember when I first started experiencing this. I thought I knew God well enough, but when I saw a friend call herself a Christian and really stand on her faith, I became aware of my own lack.
And I remember when the Holy Spirit tugged on my heart so hard, that I just had to respond to an altar call at my friend’s church.
That night at the altar, I prayed the prayer then that changes all things and put Christ in his rightful place as Lord over my life.
But you know, I don’t think I would have done it if God hadn’t pursued me first.
Using the examples of folks in the Old Testament like Noah, Abraham and Moses and some in the New Testament like Jesus’ disciples and the apostle Paul, Blackaby and King say that God repeatedly initiated a relationship with each one.
Here’s what they say about God the pursuer in their book:
“Sin has affected us so deeply that no one seeks after God on his own initiative.
"Therefore, if we are to have any relationship with Him or His Son, God will have to take the initiative.
"This is exactly what He does. God draws us to Himself. … The Love that God focuses on your life is an everlasting love.
“Because of that love, He has drawn you to Himself. He has drawn you with cords of love when you were not His friend, when you were His enemy. He gave His own Son to die for you. To firmly anchor the experiencing of God and the knowing of His will, you must be absolutely convinced of God’s love for you.”
I have a very old book in my study that’s an interpretation of “The Hound of Heaven,” by the English poet Francis Thompson (1859-1907).
I’ve never read the book, but I’ve always been fascinated by it’s title.
Turns out that “The Hound of Heaven” is a 182-line poem about the pursuit of God for the human soul. The Oblates of St. Benedict website describes it like this: “As the hound follows the hare, never ceasing in its running, ever drawing nearer in the chase, with unhurrying and imperturbed pace, so does God follow the fleeing soul by His Divine grace. And though in sin or in human love, away from God it seeks to hide itself, Divine grace follows after, unwearyingly follows ever after, till the soul feels its pressure forcing it to turn to Him alone in that never ending pursuit.”
I love the analogy of the hound because it shows the fierceness and unrelenting passion of our loving God who desires that no one should perish.
As the hound of heaven pursues you, may you always be willing to give him the one thing he so earnestly seeks.
7 Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence? 8 If I ascend to heaven, thou art there! If I make my bed in Sheol, thou art there! 9 If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, 10 even there thy hand shall lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.
John 6:44-45 New King James Version
44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. 45 It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me.
Jeremiah 31:3 New King James Version
3 The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying: “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.