Home > Christianity, Church, Jesus, Spiritual formation, Uncategorized > God is Not a Great Dane

God is Not a Great Dane

Just a few houses down from ours is a one story house with a 4 foot chain link fence surrounding the front yard. In one of its front windows hangs a fleece blanket declaring allegiance to the Seattle Seahawks, and the other side of the house is framed by an old trampoline whose springs have atrophied for lack of use. On top of the house sits an 8 foot tall metal antennae, the kind you are likely to see situated in a desert somewhere attempting to pick up radio waves emitted by alien life forms.

And posted on the front gate, for every passerby to see is a yellow sign containing only one image and four words:

The image: The shadow of a Great Dane

The words: You Are in Range

If you have ever experienced a Great Dane, and I mean the kind of experience where you can look directly into its eyes without bending your knees, you know that placing one behind a 4 foot fence is like trying to keep a Great White shark in a kiddie pool.

And if we are being totally honest, the sign isn’t quite accurate – they not only have one Great Dane, but three – and just for fun, a Rottweiler which, next to the other dogs looks more like the talking chihuahua of Taco Bell fame than something to fear.

Walking by this house is frightening, even when you know what is coming. My whole family has learned to look down the street towards this house to see whether or not the dogs are out – and it’s become a game for my children to dare me to walk next to the fence when the dogs are out. If you’ve watched The Sandlot, then you have an idea of the sheer terror I feel each time I pass this house.

I’ve come to realize that its okay if my kids think I’m a wimp. Really. I’m okay with it.

Amazingly, the dogs always stay behind the fence. So while the sign alerts people about the horse-sized dogs that could swallow a grown man whole, it is once again incorrect.

As long as I stay on the sidewalk side of the fence, I am out of range.

In 1917 Francis Thompson wrote a poem titled The Hound of Heaven. In it he describes God as one who pursues each person as a hound pursues its game. He writes of God,

Those strong Feet that followed, followed after.
                  But with unhurrying chase,
                  And unperturbèd pace,
                Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
                  They beat (after me).

At the end of the poem, the one who has spent his whole life fleeing God is finally caught willingly, lovingly in God’s embrace, caressed by the overwhelming sense of love and acceptance freely offered to him.

This is what it means to be pursued by God, to “Be in Range” of the one who created you and me, to be sought after in such a way that our fear subsides and we fall lovingly, and perhaps exhaustedly, into the arms of Christ.

While I am certain that Christ’s pursuit of me is not as a Great Dane who stands menacingly behind a fence waiting for me to finally give in, I also know that Christ pursues me with a similar passion, and that nothing stops His pursuit except for my inability or unwillingness to be caught.

Now two years later, when I pass this house I am still filled with fear, but I am also thankful for the reminder that I am in range – not of these dogs, but of the Hound of Heaven.

I am in range. Am I willing to give up the chase and finally be caught in the embrace of Christ?

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