Running From God

Hank Mattimore
October 13, 2016
Reproduced with Permission

Francis Thomson was a dope addict, a man haunted by his failures to pull himself together and be the person he wanted to be. He sought meaning in sexaul conquests, in nature, in the innocence of children but came away empty. Frustrated, he would go back to his opiates and hated himself for it.

Like a prisoner on the run, he ran to escape the embrace of his God. The opening lines of the Hound of Heaven set the tone for the poet and his desperate flight from God.

"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 I hid from Him."

For most of us our flight from God, call it a flight from love if you'd like, is not as dramatic as the poet's. We don't run pell mell from God as much as we back away slowly. not wanting to get too involved. We know we are made for great things, acknowldege we are created in God's image, but we hold back.Like St. Augustine we pray "Lord I really want to be good but not today."

So the chase continues. Love chasing us all, the homeless guy on the curbside and the Wall Street billionaire, the 12 year old next door and the society matron, gay and straight, Buddhist or Christian. Most of us are running like hell from this tremendous lover. We are afraid to be caught, lest as the poet puts it, "having Him I might have nought besides."

That's the rub isn't it? If we allow the Hound of Heaven to catch us and envelop us in His love our lives will be changed. Being "caught" by God yanks us out of our comfort zone, turns the focus from ourselves to others. We find ourselves seeing that homeless person as a fellow human being, paying attention and really listening to one another, taking responsibility for the environment that God has entrusted to our care

No wonder we run from God. We're afraid to lose our "stuff", the possessions we prize and the "me" time we treasure. We make out our bucket lists as though success in our lives will be judged by the places we've seen.

Deep down we know better. We know we are worth much more than the wealth we have accumulated or the praise from our friends. The chase is part of our lives,too. We distract ourselves. Man, it's so easy to do in our harried lives.We pretend we don't need God (Love) but we know we do. It's our fears that hold us back from surrendering to the call of this tremendous lover.

Thompson, towards the end of this masterpiece, gives us reason to hope. He assures us that, despite our flaws, we will eventually be united with God , that love will win out because at the end of the day, "Fear wist not to evade as love wist to pursue."