“Naught shelters thee, who wilt not shelter Me.” -Francis Thompson
How can you chase a running man?
The life of Francis Thompson was a downward spiral that landed him on the streets of 19th century London — a useless vagabond, an opium addict, a starving derelict.
The son of a doctor, Thomspon started out with a great potential. His father sent him to study for the priesthood, and then to another school to become a doctor. But he failed at both professions and became a wastrel instead, running from responsibility, family and God.
Eventually, this prodigal hit bottom. Wandering the back alleys of London, he was hungry, friendless and addicted to drugs. With tattered clothes and broken shoes, he barely survived by selling matches and newspapers. Still, God did not relent in His dogged chase to capture the young man’s soul.
A ray of hope came when Thompson began to write poetry. Wilfred Meynell, an editor, immediately saw Thompson’s genius. He published his works, encouraged him to enter hospital, and personally nursed him through his convalescence. This marked a spiritual turnaround in Thompson’s life. In the poem “The Hound Of Heaven,” he writes of his plight from God and God’s pursuit of him. There, God chased this running man and caught him. Finally.
“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….
still with unhurrying chase,
And unperturbed pace,
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy.
Came on the following Feet,
And a Voice above their beat—–
“Naught shelters thee, who wilt not shelter Me.”
With the same breathless pursuit, the Hound of Heaven is chasing another running man. This person is not a vagrant, or an addict; he is a real runner, an educated man who works so hard to achieve his dream with a brief ‘roller-coaster ride’ to success (and many failures) Nonetheless, he stubbornly fled from Christ. Until one day, the Hound caught him in a miserable situation —-helpless and hopeless.
That guy learns the hard way. And God caught him too. Finally.