Many moons ago, at the beginning of my marriage and before I had children, I found myself with too much time on my hands. Given my current life situation, having too much time seems like a foreign concept. At that time, however, while my husband was at work, I had many lonely hours to fill each day. One of my favorite ways to pass the hours was to visit the park near our home and stroll the walking trail there.
Sometimes I would visit the park by myself, listening to the radio as I walked. On days that I felt up to the adventure, I would take my black lab-mix puppy, Todd, with me to walk the trail. He was always filled with pent-up energy and excitement, and without exception he would end up pulling me around the trail. It was not uncommon to be stopped by a passerby who would jokingly ask, “Are you walking him, or is he walking you?”
Sometimes, on weekends, my husband would join us for walks at the park. One Saturday morning, as we were loading our dog into the car, unexpectedly our cat, Squeedunk, jumped into the car too. Now, most logical cat owners would have lovingly taken their cat back out of the car, knowing that cats are not designed for strolls at the park. We were not those cat owners. Young, naive, and curious, we decided to take him with us and see what would happen.
When we got to the park, Todd jumped out of the vehicle, and my husband quickly put a leash around his neck, preparing him for our walk. Squeedunk jumped out of the vehicle too. We did not put a leash around his neck. As my curiosity was replaced by anxiety, I reassured myself that we only lived a mile from the park. Surely, if we lost our cat, he would find his way back home.
We began our walk and slowly, trailing us by 20 feet, our cat began strolling as well. Todd, our dog, pulled us excitedly down the trail, sniffing all of the smells and chasing passing squirrels. As we walked, my husband and I took turns sneaking peaks behind us. Steadily, in his own time, Squeedunk sauntered down the trail behind us. Just as one would expect, he stalked us in feline fashion, trailing nonchalantly, looking like he had other things he could be doing. He continued to follow us for the entire mile-long walking trail.
As we returned to the parking lot, Squeedunk walked over to us and allowed me to pick him up and put him back in the car for the ride home. It was an interesting experience to say the least. We never pressed our luck by trying it a second time.
What if goodness and mercy follow us in a similarly unexpected way? The lyricist David, ends Psalm 23, promising:
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.Psalm 23:6 ESV
Following me. All the days of my life. How often do we pay attention to the way that the Lord’s goodness and mercy are following us? Is it easy for you to see the evidence of it?
I think there are seasons where the goodness and mercy in my life seem so evident that rather than casually following me, it feels they are hunting me down. Then, other times, like my cat, they seem to be trailing far behind. I find myself wondering if they are even still there. I can’t always see their evidence in the moment. Still, as I look back, almost always in hindsight, I find they have been there all along.
Sometimes goodness and mercy come in the form of tangible blessings, like money I wasn’t expecting. Sometimes they come in the form of protection, like a near-missed collision on the highway. Sometimes they arrive in the form of an opportunity, like a job or a calling. Sometimes, they show up as simply as my son’s hug and kiss at bedtime.
Regardless of how they arrive, goodness and mercy always come as love and provision from a God who infinitely cares for us all the days of our lives. What surprises of goodness and mercy are trailing you today?
Pause: Inhale and slowly exhale. Take a moment to quiet your mind. Slowly read Psalm 23 through once or twice. What stands out to you in this passage?
Renew: Take time to meditate or journal about how you have seen God’s goodness and mercy following you. Write down the large and the small ways you find evidence for goodness and mercy in your life.
Next: Keep your eyes open this week for ways that you see goodness and mercy. What you pay attention to changes your focus. As you pay attention to finding goodness and mercy, you will no doubt find them.
May we have joy on the adventure of life, knowing that goodness and mercy are following after us.
Pause, Renew, Next!