Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever. Psalm 23:6
“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 midst of tears I hid from Him…”
These words were penned by the famous 19th century poet, Francis Thompson. They are the beginning lines of his poem, “The Hound of Heaven.” Of course, Thompson was referring to God as the hound who pursues broken people even as they run from him. Sound familiar? That describes Jonah’s story right? But, truth be told, it’s your story too.
You see, it’s really easy to get on our high horse and look down on Jonah for being so self-righteous and selfish. We look at him and scoff at his sense of religious and racial superiority. And yet when we do that, we miss the real message of the book of Jonah—that his story is basically our story as well. We have all acted like we don’t need God or don’t need his Word. In some way, we are all seeking our own Tarshish to run to and escape God.
We are all Jonah.
That’s sobering. I hate coming to grips with my own selfishness and sense of superiority. It makes me feel ugly when I see the parts of my heart that are still so unsanctified. Deep down, I want to love God with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength. But, when I take an honest look, I find that I am running from God way more than I would like to admit.
But, that’s not the full story of Jonah because that’s not the full story of your life or mine. Our story is really always God’s story. It’s always about him. That’s what Thompson penned so powerfully in his poem. Thompson struggled with failure, despair, and drug addiction. His troubles eventually led to his death at the age of 48. But, through it all, he saw God as the one who would never give up on him.
God is so relentless in his pursuit of sinners that he will stop at nothing in tracking them down, not to punish them but to bless them! Amazing isn’t it? When we were God’s enemies, he came running after us with “goodness and mercy.” When we were at our worst, God gave us his best (Romans 5:8). That’s the hound of Heaven. That’s Jonah’s story. That’s your story. That’s my story. When we cry out in desperation (i.e. faith), he is there to swoop us up and make us his children.
I don’t know what you are going through today. Maybe your struggle is great like Thompson’s. Maybe you’re going through a trial that seems insurmountable. God is not a passive bystander in your story. He is the main character. And he will keep pursuing you, keep loving you, keep sustaining you until you reach the end of your life. And in that moment, it won’t matter what successes or failures you may have had in life. In the end, the Hound of Heaven always tracks down his own. He will bring his children home where we will “dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”