Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

God Pursues Us, But We Have To Stop Running

By LORRAINE V. MURRAY, Commentary | Published September 3, 2009

I have a confession to make. Sometimes I see a salesman approaching my front door, and I pretend I’m not home when he rings the bell. And then I think about the times that God knocks on the doors of our hearts and how we evade him.

For one, we are so busy. Perhaps we are renovating the house, driving the kids to soccer and working out at the gym.

The knock comes, and we say, “Come back later, God, when the kids are grown, when this job slows down, when I’ve won the lottery.” We can’t seem to get it through our heads that life on this planet comes with an expiration date.

And then suddenly a friend near our age gets very ill and dies. Then we see the handwriting on the wall bearing a message everyone has to read at one time or another. We are all going to die.

But we run like mad from that message, which is why some folks even avoid going to Mass. Because what if the priest mentions the “d” word?

Dorothy Day, who wrote about her life in “The Long Loneliness,” didn’t have many thoughts about death when she was a young woman. During the heyday of the Jazz Age, she did her share of drinking and bed hopping. All along, she adamantly claimed that she did not believe in God.

Until one day she felt him nipping at her heels.

In his poem “The Hound of Heaven,” Francis Thompson describes the years he ran away from God. “I fled Him, down the nights and down the days; I fled Him, down the arches of the years … and in the mist of tears I hid from Him …”

When Day stopped hiding from the hound of heaven, she ditched the bar scene, embraced Christianity and opened a home for outcasts in New York City. Today many believe that she will one day be canonized for her service to the poor.

We may not be called to the same ministry as Day, but God has some special work in mind for each of us. But we’ll never discover it if we keep running from him.

Some flee him because they envision him as an angry old man who can’t wait to zap them. Others run because they’re pretty sure what his message is.

“God, I know you want me to get out of this disastrous love affair, but I can’t.”

“You’re going to tell me to ditch the drugs, but I need them.”

Addictions all lead to dead ends, rather than what we truly are seeking, which is something that only comes from God: a gigantic dose of unconditional love.

Fortunately, God is a persistent lover. He never gives up on us. And let’s hope that at some point we’ll stop running from him, put aside all the excuses and run to answer the door. At that point, we can finally let him into our hearts.

Lorraine’s latest book is “Death in the Choir,” a mystery set in Decatur. Artwork is by Jef Murray. Readers may e-mail the Murrays, who are parishioners at St. Thomas More Church in Decatur, by writing them at