2022 Advent Devotional – Immanuel, God is With Us is Now Available on Kindle

Inspired Prayer: Day 11

“I pray…that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love.”
Ephesians 3:16-17

It is said that hindsight is 20/20, that we see best when looking back. So, again and again, God called His people Israel to remember. Look back and learn, look back and be thankful. When you look back, where do you see God? Where do you see Him working through your good times and your bad, through prosperity and adversity?

Scripture reveals that God had set His heart on you before He made the heavens and the earth (Ephesians 1:4-5). From eternity God has loved you and wanted to make you His child. It was God who formed you in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139:15-16), then first cradled you and presented you to your mother (Psalm 22:9). Perhaps unknown to you, God has been with you every step, guiding you, caring for you, loving you (Psalm 37:23-25).

Francis Thompson’s celebrated poem “The Hound of Heaven” testifies to God’s stubborn, unrelenting love pursuing us through all of life. It is a poem that influenced the faith of C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and G. K. Chesterton. Thompson’s poem tells of God as “this tremendous Lover” who, as the Hound pursues the hare, so God’s love pursues those trying to escape.

Thompson was born in 1859 into a devout Christian family, but his life was early marred with brokenness and suffering. He seemed a misfit at most everything. He tried to become a priest but failed. When urged to become a doctor like his father, he failed at that. After a long bout with illness in his youth, Thompson self-medicated with laudanum, a legal form of opium at the time, and the rest was all downhill. At twenty-six years of age, he ended up homeless, selling matches on the streets to buy more laudanum. Two years later, when on the verge of suicide, he was rescued by a Catholic priest who helped him overcome his addiction.

During his recovery, Thompson wrote “The Hound of Heaven”, a long poem of 20/20 hindsight, by which he sees that for all of his life, he had been running from God. The first lines poured forth:

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, and under running laughter.
Up vistaed hopes I sped; and shot precipitated
Adown Titanic glooms of chasmed fears,
From those strong Feet that followed after, followed after.
But with unhurrying chase and unperturbed pace,
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
They beat, and a Voice beat,
More instant than the feet:
All things betray thee who betrayest Me.

Thompson came to see the Hound as God who so relentlessly pursues those fleeing Him. Finally, Thompson gave in and let God love him. He realized that God’s love refused to let him go. He saw that every alley of escape was but a dead end. Truly, “All things betray thee who betrayest Me.”

As Paul prays in today’s scripture for believers to be rooted and grounded in love, he knows well that stubborn Love that had pursued and refused to let him go. Bold in God’s grace, he can readily acknowledge he had been “a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a man of violence… and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 1:13-14) Paul ran from God, fought against God, and the love of God won! Confident that nothing “will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39), Paul longs for every believer to grow in the knowledge of that unending love!


“Love desires no recompense other than to be loved in return, and thus God desires nothing in return for his love for us other than our love.” Hans Urs Von Balthasar


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