Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Hound of Heaven

What metaphor have you used to describe God?  There are many that are very traditional--Heavenly Father is probably the most used and traditional of all the metaphors.  God is also called Mother in more than one place in the Scriptures.  God is called a Rock, a Fortress, a Hiding Place.  The action of God on behalf of humans has led some to call God--Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer which are synonyms for the members of the Trinity.

One non-biblical author penned a poem called, "The Hound of Heaven" in which he compared God to a bloodhound that will track you down when you go astray.  That metaphor is also valid because there are scriptural references that refer to God's omniscience and how humans cannot get away from God no matter how hard they try.  Psalm 139 refers to this when it says, "Where can I go from your spirit?  Or where can I feel from your presence?  If I ascend to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there..." (Psalm 139:7-8)

I had this metaphor for God come alive to me yesterday as I went for my daily morning walk.  It was a beautiful sunny day with cooler temperatures, just perfect for walking around our town.  So, I set out walking with my headphones on listening to music and walking about feeling energized and when I was about halfway finished, I came upon a beautiful black Labrador dog, most likely a large puppy.  He was almost waist high to me and very energetic.  I broke my rule that I have concerning stray dogs and talked to him and he came over to me immediately.  He lay down on the ground and turned over on his back and I broke my other rule not to pet stray dogs and rubbed his tummy and told him he was a good boy.  I started out on my way walking again when I learned that I had a new friend.  This dog would not go away and would not leave me alone.  He jumped playfully around me, putting his paws on my chest now and then, and he ran ahead of me and then back to me over and over again, as if he was checking for danger in my path and then coming back to assure me that there was none.  He was a great dog and it was a shame that someone had let him out to run around because I feared for his safety as he ran out in front of automobiles a few times too.

As I turned the corner to head back to my house, I spotted another person walking, an elderly lady.  My new friend took off toward her and I went in the opposite direction and walked even faster, hoping that he would take up with this woman and I could go home peacefully without him.  No such luck!  After he visited with this new human, he returned to escort me home.  He walked with me all the way to my house and, as I went into my yard and closed the gate behind me, he stood at the gate and looked longingly at me, as if to ask me why I had not taken him to my house too.  I went inside because the two dogs who live in my house were waiting for me.  They would not take kindly to a new canine friend trying to horn in on the attention they get regularly from me.  I gave the black lab a minute to disappear and then let them out into the yard.

That black lab reminded me of God.  It did not matter how much I tried to get the dog to go on and leave me alone, he just kept on walking with me.  I told him to go home, I waved my hand in the direction away from me to give him a signal, I even tried to lose him here and there when he wandered off to explore yards along the way.  This dog would not give up.  He just kept on returning to keep walking with me even though I did not want him to go with me.

God is like that, according to the psalmist.  God keeps on hanging around us even when we try to lose him.  God follows us and sniffs out our scent until finally we cannot stay lost any longer.  God truly is like the Hound of Heaven that the poet describes.  God just keeps on searching for us again and again until finally we cannot turn him away any longer.  We may think we have outsmarted him, but he is there, around the corner just waiting to surprise us with his presence.

The holiest day of the Christian Year is getting close---Easter!  God's revealed his biggest surprise in history on that day about 2000 years ago.  Just when humans thought they had God's son boxed in, suddenly he was free!  That is the reason for celebration on Easter Sunday!  The Hound of Heaven is alive and looking for you, not just on Easter Sunday but every day that you live!  Thank God!

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