Ravi Zacharias - Awaken Now
This passage influenced the great poet Francis Thompson who was a drug addict, was on opium: though given a genius mind and applied to Oxford was turned down to it three times because he couldn't shake his opium habit. He would live in two places at charing cross hanging out with the losers and the lost buying his drugs, selling pencils, bootlaces and all of that: to buy the drugs to keep that habit going as an addict. At night he would wrap his dead dirty raincoat around him in the chill nights and sleep by the river Thames, charing cross and Thames, charing cross and Thames. He's the one who wrote: 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 mind: and in the midst of tears I hid from him, and under running laughter. Adown titanic glooms of chasmed fears, up vistaed hopes I sped, running from the strong feet that followed after.
One of his greatest pieces of poetry was called "The kingdom of God". He wrote this: o world invisible, we view thee, o world intangible, we touch thee, o world unknowable we know thee, inapprehensible, we clutch thee! Does a fish soar to find the ocean, the eagle plunge to find the air? That we ask of the stars in motion if they have rumor of thee there? Not where the wheeling systems darken, or our benumbed conceiving soars, the drift of pinions would we harkened, beats on our own clay-shutterred doors. The angels keep their ancient places turn but a stone and start a wing! 'tis ye, 'tis your estranged faces that miss the many splendored thing. But (when so sad thou can't not sadder) cry, and upon thy sore loss shall shine the traffic of Jacob's ladder pitched betwixt heaven and charing cross. Yea, in the night, my soul, my daughter, cry - clinging to heaven by the hems: lo, Christ walking on the water, not of Gennesaret, but Thames!
Imagine that same imagery of the ladder is given in the New Testament as well as the Son of man and the angels ascending and descending, communion with God. God will track you down no matter how far you run if you will only pause long enough to know he's nearer to you than you realize. They talk about the hiddenness of God. We need to talk a lot more about the obviousness of God. He's here and he is like the hound of heaven, keeps following you, following you, following you. I can guarantee you. This room will never end with testimonies tonight if we opened up the microphone to see how God met us in a place where we never ever dreamed he would catch up with us. Of all the places I never dreamed of meeting God was on my bed of suicide when I was 17 years old. He followed me right to that bed.
Whenever I go to Delhi, I always rent a taxi alone and I go and park in front of the hospital. It used to be called wellington hospital then. It's now ram Manohar Lohia Hospital or something like that. I park in front of that and I just look in there and I say, "Lord, this is where it all happened when I was just 17". God is following you. If you are running from him today — stop! He's got a ladder towards you and he wants you to look up and know he is trying to get you to commune with him.
I want to close with a prayer by Michel Quoist, the French mystic. I want you to give me your undivided attention. It's a powerful prayer: I have fallen, Lord, once more. I cannot go on, I will never succeed. I'm ashamed and I don't dare look at you, Lord. In it I have struggled for I knew you were right near me, bending over me, watching. But temptation blew in like a hurricane, and instead of looking at you I turned my head away, I stepped aside while you stood, silent and sorrowful like the spurned fiancã who sees his loved one carried off by his rival. When the wind died down as suddenly as it had arisen, when the lightning ceased after proudly streaking the darkness, all of the sudden, Lord, I found myself alone, ashamed, disgusted, with my sin in my hands. This sin that I selected as a customer selects his purchase, this sin that I paid for but cannot return because the storekeeper is no longer there. This tasteless and this odious sin, this sin that now sickens me that I once wanted but I want no more, Lord, I imagined, sought, played with, fondled for a long time that I have finally embraced while coldly bipassing you, I embraced that sin.
My arms outstretched, my eyes and heart irresistibly drawn: this sin that I have grasped and consumed with gluttony, it is mine now. But it possesses me as the spider web holds captive the fly. It sticks to me, flows in my veins, fills my heart. It has slipped in everywhere as darkness slips into the forest at dusk and fills all the patches of light. I cannot get rid of it. I run from it like the master of an unwanted and mangy dog, but it catches up with me and rubs joyfully against my legs. Everyone must notice it. I'm so ashamed, Lord that I feel like crawling to avoid being seen. I'm ashamed of being seen by my friends, I'm ashamed of being seen by you, Lord because you love me but I forgot you. I forgot you because I was thinking only of myself and one can't think of several persons at once. One must choose, and I chose.
And now your voice, your look, your love, they hurt me. They weigh me down. They weigh me down more than my sin. Lord, please don't look at me like that because I'm naked and dirty, down, and shattered with no strength left. I dare make no more promises to you. I can only stand bowed before you. Come on, son, look up. Isn't it mainly your vanity that is wounded? If you love me, you would grieve, but you would trust me. Do you think that there's a limit to my love for you? Do you think for a moment that I have stopped loving you? But you still rely on yourself, son. You must rely on me. Ask my pardon and get up quickly. You see it is not falling that is the worst but staying on the ground.