“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever…” Psalms 23:6
I’ve heard this scripture verse many times over. It has given reassurance to me that one day, I will arrive at a place where I will most assuredly see Goodness and Mercy right on my heels, make everything wonderfully rosy in my life.
But what happens when you look at your life, whether in the past or present, and see trial after trial, challenge after challenge, hardship after hardship?
What happens when goodness and mercy looks more like Heartache and Misery when you glance over your shoulder?
What do you say when you can’t see goodness and mercy behind you?
I say, with all assurance, look again.
I’ve had to do this in my own life, even recently.
Sure, I’ve faced some challenges and set backs. There were days that tears filled my eyes and discouragement wanted to put an end to me. There were many times I prayed and when I opened my eyes, everything looked the same, hell still felt like hell and pain still felt like pain. There were days I woke up frustrated and went to sleep frustrated. Nothing in my life looked like it was improving or changing.
Where was goodness and mercy then?
Here’s what I missed for so long…
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow ME…”
I’m not following goodness and mercy, but goodness and mercy is following me. That means I must take some ownership over where I am and where I find myself. The steps of a good man or woman are ordered by God but I must allow Him to do so. However, even if I wander off on the wrong road; even if after a series of bad judgement calls, weighty consequences and bought lessons I find myself in a space I never would have predicted for myself, I can rest assured that even in these spaces, Goodness and Mercy followed me there and will continue to follow me, all the days of my life.
Goodness and Mercy are following you, wherever you go.
That means, yes, as much as we’d all like to make the right choices all the time, we sometimes do not. But we can rest assured that we are never alone, even in our wrong. Goodness and Mercy are there. The goodness of God speaks to His nature; His mercy speaks to His heart. No matter what happens to you, His mercy endures forever toward you. You never have to worry about facing an angry and merciless God. His mercy endures forever. His hand is upon you for good. His grace removes all excuses from your life. Grace doesn’t remove us from the pig pen, it destroys the pig pen! No more wallowing in our shame and our mistakes. Grace wipes the slate clean and says, “Where are your accusers? Go your way and sin no more”. Grace, when received into the life of a believer, keeps mistakes from ruining our lives. There was a period in time when the mistakes of humanity could not be overcome. Sacrifices of bulls and goats were offered up, scape goats were sent into the wilderness carrying the sins of the people. We often look to these shadows as God’s righteous judgement not being satisfied with animal sacrifices. That is true. But if we struggle to overcome feelings of unworthiness and condemnation with the BLOOD OF JESUS, imagine the pain of those who have gone before us who after giving their valuable livestock for sacrifice still walked away empty inside, riddled with guilt and shame.
Jesus died not just to cleanse us from sin but to free us from guilt and condemnation.
What good is His sacrifice if we still approach God with feelings of guilt and shame? It doesn’t matter how much He suffered, bled and died for us and how His sacrifice is once and for us all if we do not understand Grace.
Those who carry guilt and shame also carry a deep need to be justified.
Remember the fig leaves?
Goodness and mercy were in the Garden of Eden and passed Adam and Eve two garments made of animal skins to replace their failed attempt at covering up their nakedness.
That alone should tell us God isn’t interested in our being shamed. He covers us with robes of righteousness and lifts our head. Goodness and mercy came following after Adam and Eve, even when they were running from it.
So when you feel like giving up, keep going. Why?
Goodness and mercy is right behind you and no matter where you go or where you find yourself, they will always be there for you.