Now, starting with this framework, to then understand God’s perspective, you have to realize that His love is so much more powerful, so much more persistent, so much more tireless, etc. Because He is God, He can love so many levels beyond how we can love our children. Because He is infinitely wise and intelligent, His thoughts, while somewhat similar to ours, reach far higher levels than we can, taking into account millions of variables and factors that affect us in mere seconds, and processing the information in a tiny span of time – knowing things that would take our best minds a lifetime to even begin scraping the surface of. Now, if He is so extraordinarily powerful, boundlessly loving, and infinitely capable of being His best with us all the time, surely He is not bothered by our eccentricities. He looks at our faults as any loving father would, with a patient and compassionate eye. If you think about it, there are so many different ways of encountering and approaching God. You can see this in the multiplicity of denominations, and ways of worshipping and serving Him. Some experience Him with dumbfounded awe, and sit quietly in reverence, while others feel an explosion of joy and worship exuberantly, dancing in the aisles and so forth. Still others feel Him in deep contemplation of the complexity and wonders of the world around us, trying to understand just how amazing our universe is and realizing that the God behind all this is so awesome and incredible.
God has made us infinitely unique in His measureless creativity. Knowing that we are infinitely unique, He makes allowances for each of us, letting us experience Him in our own unique way, always meeting us with kindness, always finding ways to fit into our unique personality and circumstances in life. He meets us where we are because He knows we're too weak and ignorant to figure out how to meet Him without His help. The Bible tells us that He first loved and sought after us, while we were still in enemy territory, fighting against Him. He is dogged in His pursuit of us, trying to get our attention and make us understand His love, trying to entice us to enter into covenant with Him through the doorway of His Son, Jesus.
But once we enter through that doorway, He executes His plans for us, and He becomes the ultimate teacher, trainer, and father. He is always indulgent with His children (those washed in the blood). Always compassionate and gentle. He does not mind if you struggle with Him, so long as He can see in your heart that you want to do the right thing ultimately and that you are merely trying to understand. He would rather that you struggle with Him, trying to find peace with Him, because He wants that relationship with you. He prefers this to the alternative of you forgetting Him and going your own way. In His indulgent will, He overlooks so many of our mistakes as long as our hearts are humble, and we are trying to walk in obedience. He doesn’t care if we stumble. He expects that. We don’t have to be perfect. We couldn’t be even if we wanted to. So why waste effort? Remember that “obedience is better than sacrifice” and “He giveth grace to the humble.” One example that really captures God’s compassionate understanding of our ignorance is when Jesus plead from the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
It is that unyielding love for us, even when we are God’s enemy, that characterizes the greatness of His love. And one of the most poignant images of this restless, tireless, boundless love of God was beautifully captured by the English poet Francis Thompson in his poem, “The Hound of Heaven.” Since its writing, this poem has influenced many famous and influential Christians, including J.R.R. Tolkien. But this is a poem for everyone. It is the story of virtually all of us as we constantly walk the broken road back to the Father’s grace, just like the Prodigal Son in the Bible.
To truly understand the spirit of the poem, you have to know something of Thompson’s story. Thompson lived on the very gritty edge of society. The son of a doctor, he was very highly educated and had even studied medicine himself. But due primarily to his opium addiction, he ended up living in the streets of London for three years (1885-1888). He was rescued from this rough existence by a very kind couple who even helped him to publish his first book of poetry in 1893. But the rough living had taken a toll on his health, so he struggled through physical difficulties until tuberculosis finally took his life in 1907. You can see his tragic struggles in “The Hound of Heaven.” But the poem also charmingly captures the constant love of God which pursued him even while he lived on the edge all those years.
The poem’s driving metaphor is of a hound chasing its prey across a landscape of a lifetime. Thompson was trying to convey the persevering, tenacious pursuit of a hound, a metaphor for God’s no-holds-barred pursuit of every single human life as He tries to bring them into His kingdom. No matter what the fleeing person does to try to escape, no matter where he goes, God is always there in pursuit. The poem ends with God addressing the prey he has finally cornered, telling the man how unworthy he is, yet how greatly he is loved. As God reveals his unflinching love and the fact that He was the only one who truly loved this man throughout his life, He also reveals that all the things the man truly desired out of life can only be found with his God.
How hast thou merited--
Of all man's clotted clay the dingiest clot?
Alack, thou knowest not
How little worthy of any love thou art!
Whom wilt thou find to love ignoble thee,
Save Me, save only Me?
All which I took from thee I did but take,
Not for thy harms,
But just that thou might'st seek it in My arms.
All which thy child's mistake
Fancies as lost, I have stored for thee at home:
Rise, clasp My hand, and come!'
Halts by me that footfall:
Is my gloom, after all,
Shade of His hand, outstretched caressingly?
'Ah, fondest, blindest, weakest,
I am He Whom thou seekest!
Thou dravest love from thee, who dravest Me.'