The Hound of Heaven
I regularly listen to The Moth Radio Hour which features real people telling real stories with no notes. This past week’s episode featured a story from Patience Murray, one of the survivors of the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando. After being taken hostage and waiting for someone, anyone, to rescue her, Patience remembers asking God why all this was happening to her. In the years since, she realized that she stopped asking that question because she saw that God was, as she said, “revealing why” as her life moved on from that hellish experience. The question was no longer helpful. The answers were coming in God’s time, not at the moment the question was asked. Just as she had to grapple with her lack of control on the night of the shooting, Patience came to recognize that the gift of wisdom, the gift of perspective, was also not something in her control. She didn’t need to find the answers. God would find her and then the answers would come.
That shift in Patience’s life represents a tremendous faith in the goodness of God. It’s also an act of trust in a God who is active, who is seeking us, who is powerfully present and at work in the world. Continuing to ask “why?” and expecting an answer on our own terms would demonstrate a belief in a God who is passive, who needs to be sought and chased down. In this view, God is so passive that somehow God would not come to find us with the answer to our suffering if we did not continue to ask the question. Whoever this passive God is, it’s not the God that Patience (what a name!) encountered in her own life. Whoever this passive God is, it’s not the God of the Bible. The God of Abraham, of Isaac, of Jacob doesn’t wait for us to come to Him. The God of Israel sends the prophets because He has a plan, not because the prophets submitted their applications for the job. The God of salvation sends His Son, Jesus Christ, to find us in the midst of the darkness of sin and death in order to bring us into the light of life. We were not going to find our way out of that darkness without a light breaking in.
This coming weekend, I will be giving the parish mission at Immaculate Conception in Elmhurst. The theme of the mission is “The Hound of Heaven.” We’ll be spending three nights meditating on this God who sends, who seeks, who desires us. Far from God being the passive object of some spiritual quest, God is already on a quest to find us! He is the Hound of Heaven, chasing us down even as we try to hide from Him. We’ll look at how time and again in the Bible, God searches for us, knocks on the doors of our hearts, and then begins to lead us home. I invite you to join the live stream of the parish mission if you are able. My hope would be that the reflections each night might help you to gain Patience’s patient faith: a deeper trust in the God who will, in His good time, reveal the answer to the “why?” we ask again and again in prayer.
THE HOUND OF HEAVEN
Immaculate Conception Parish Mission
March 7th, 8th, and 9th
7:00 PM Central