Does God’s goodness and mercy chase after you?

I remember the last time I spoke with my youngest daughter. It was several years ago, when she informed me that she never wanted to see or speak to me again. Her reasons? They were vague. She never really told me what sins I had committed to deserve such a harsh punishment. It left me breathless and puzzled. I knew I had not been the kindest to my own mother. I had often said things to her I deeply regret now. I had occasionally been harsh to her, but my mother was from another era and she always bore my reproach with kindness. However, I would never have considered cutting my mother off just because I had issues with her. If you love someone, as I did her, you don’t deliberately hurt them. 

Sadly, my youngest is not alone in her judgements. Several of her siblings have followed suit and also cut me off. I won’t go into family dynamics here, because that is not the purpose of this article. Suffice it to say that my heart is broken. This is a particularly hard week as I have back to back birthdays to deal with emotionally. Two of my children were born a week apart. My heart aches for them and I find myself breaking down sometimes. Tears flow from my eyes even as I write this. I long for reconciliation. I long for a chance to talk with them and hear their accusations. I long for a chance to tell them how sorry I am that I failed them. I know that I am not alone in my pain. I have heard statistics that 30% of the younger generation have chosen to do exactly the same thing to their parents, cut them off. 

With this pain in my heart, I turn to the Lord. He has promised me that my prodigals will return to me. But it has been years. It would be easy to give up, to lose hope. As I spoke to the Lord about my children this morning He gave me some Scripture that renewed my hope. If you are waiting on the Lord, waiting for prayers that have still not been answered, hope that is beginning to fade, sorrow that is overwhelming at times, then let me encourage you with what He has shown me. 

I was reading in Psalm 27 today when I encountered verses 14 and 15: “I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait on the LORD; Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the LORD!” As I read these verses I decided to write them in my journal so I would remember them. But then I added something else to my journal. I wrote, “So here I am Lord, waiting on you. Show me your goodness in the land of the living. But I feel as though I have already seen your goodness. How can I wait for more?

It is true. God has been good to me! He has been faithful to me. He has never forsaken me. I look at my life, and I have learned to trust Him, even with the things that do not or did not make sense. Do I dare ask for more of His goodness?

As I sat there writing in my journal, I heard Him say to me, “why do you limit my goodness?” He then showed me another psalm, also written by David, one that I am sure many are familiar with. Psalm 23:5-6 tells us: “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever!” That word “follow” is quite interesting. It means to pursue, to run after and to chase. Let me paraphrase that. God’s goodness and mercy runs after me, chases me and pursues me. It’s not just walking behind me, slowly. No, it means He is running after me with intention to bless me. 

At the moment that I heard Him say that to me, “why do you limit my goodness?”, I wasn’t sure whether to rejoice or to feel rebuked. Perhaps it’s both! All I know is that as I read the verses He showed me, I felt renewed hope. It strengthened my heart. I am reminded that the prodigal eventually came to himself, remembered his father, and went home. Luke 15:11-32

This promise of God’s goodness and mercy in the land of the living, is not just about prodigal children however. It is about everything in our lives. David was being hunted down by a madman called King Saul, hiding in caves and running for his life, when he wrote these verses. David saw the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Eventually, he was made king and God called him a “man after his own heart”. (1Samuel 13:14, Acts 13:22) Why did God call Him that? Because David never gave up hope and always trusted God. David believed in God’s  goodness and did what God told him to do. We might not be running for our lives, we might not have prodigal children we wait for, but it doesn’t matter. We all have things in our lives that are painful, even agonizing at times. What we do with those things is what matters.

Do we give up? Do we lose hope, and become bitter? Do we become offended with God? It’s not hard to do that! But I would suggest a better way. I would suggest that we strengthen ourselves in the Lord. I would suggest that we sit at the Lord’s feet and allow Him to comfort us with His word. That’s what He did for me. He comforted me and strengthened me with His word. I choose to believe Him. I choose to wait. I choose to believe that His goodness and mercy is running after me and chasing me down. I encourage you to make the same choice. 

What is the Lord saying to you?

Several years ago my husband and I retired and decided to move to warmer weather. We chose an area of the United States that had very little history of hurricane activity, yet was still close to the ocean. When we arrived in this region, we were reassured by the natives, that a hurricane had not come in decades. With this assurance, we settled in without worries. Oddly enough within just a few short years, 3 or 4 to be exact, we had two hurricanes within one year. To say that we were frightened would be an understatement. Perhaps the most terrifying part of the ordeal was the constant alarm going off on our phones; the government was warning us to evacuate town and get to safety. 

During both of these situations, I remember very clearly what the Lord was saying to me. He told me that no harm would come near my dwelling. He told me, not to be afraid! In both cases, there was terrible destruction in our neighborhood, both with flooding and with downed trees and home repairs. But our house remained completely safe. I’ve seen images of tornado damage where an entire neighborhood was destroyed, except for one house. Although not quite that dramatic, it was similar for us.

We are living in unprecedented times. There is turmoil, plagues, fears, rumors of wars, food shortages, everywhere. You would have to be living under a rock, not to see that there is a proverbial “hurricane” coming to this earth. With the internet giving us live information and misinformation, there is never any doubt of what is coming. Just like those loud government alarms on my phone, the world is shaking with fears and turmoil and the internet will not let us forget it. Nor should we. The Bible warned us that these events would happen in the last days. Just read Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21. In each one of these, Jesus talks about the end of the age. Therefore, none of these things should take us by surprise. God has certainly not been caught off guard. 

So what are we to do? This morning as I was in prayer, talking to the Lord, He reminded me of those two hurricanes and how He kept my husband and I safe and protected our home. He reminded me of what He had told me back then, “Do not be afraid”. 

It would be easy for me to respond with, “but Lord, look at this person, or this situation, or that country”! And I have done exactly that. If it can happen to them, why not to me? 

Let me share another story with you, this time from the Bible. After Jesus’ resurrection, He spent some time with the disciples eating breakfast on the shores of Galilee. The story is found in John 21. After they had eaten, Jesus walks with Peter and asks him several times if Peter loved Him. He was of course restoring the heart of Peter to Himself, during this conversation. But that is not my focus here. My focus is on something that Peter then said to Jesus at the end of this conversation. Peter noticed that John was following them and he turned around, to look at John and then said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” John 21:21

I find this question rather intriguing. I’m not sure what it was that Peter wanted Jesus to do with John, but the most obvious thing is that he was comparing himself to John. Instead of focusing on his own situation, his own restoration, and his own sin in this case, he wanted to know what Jesus would do with John. 

Is that not so easy to do? We look at other people, we look at other situations, and we question what God is doing in their lives. I’m not suggesting that we can’t learn from others, but I am suggesting that we first and foremost look at what Jesus is doing in our life, in my life. What is Jesus saying to me? What is He saying to you? And that is where it gets interesting, doesn’t it? Jesus responded to Peter like this, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!” John 21:22 (Have you ever considered the fact that John did in fact remain on the earth until He saw Jesus come back a second time? He saw it during his vision in Revelation! John saw it all before he died: “Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war…And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.” Revelation 20:11-16)

However, back to my original point.  It is easy for us to focus on all the evil happening in the world; all the people dying, all the people starving, being locked in their homes, bombed from the air, etc. It is easy for me to look at all these situations and ask, “but Lord, what about all these people”? Should I pray for them? Absolutely! Should I help, if I feel led to do so? Absolutely. 

But just like this conversation between Peter and Jesus, with John listening in the background, we need to focus on what Jesus is saying to us. What is He telling me? What is Jesus telling you? If you don’t know, perhaps you need to sit quietly and ask Him! 

The Bible tells us in Psalm 91:1-2 “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.” 

In order for me to dwell in the secret place of the Most High, I first have to find that secret place. It’s secret for a reason! You don’t find it by listening to other people. You don’t find it by running around looking for it. You can only find that secret place, by being still. “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge.” Psalm 46:10-11

I would encourage you to find out what the Lord is saying to you personally during this storm. He has promised that He will be our refuge, our strong tower. He will protect us, but we need to trust Him. Never mind what is happening to others. I need to follow Jesus. You need to follow Jesus!

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