It’s hard to believe that the month of January has passed, and we’re already six days into February! More and more often I find myself asking the rhetorical question, “Where does the time go?” which segues to the more poignant question, “where did my time go?”
To say that the New Year has been anything but dull is a mild understatement! Our year commenced with a battery of illnesses and trips to Urgent Care and the doctor’s office. Temperatures flirted with 65 degrees one day and were cooled to negative wind chills only days later. A new boss and new job responsibilities for one of us escorted in the new year with many unknowns. We’ve been blessed with the deepening of roots of existing friendships and the planting of new relationships. We’ve celebrated victories, fought our way through challenges, grieved losses and praised the Lord for answered prayers. God has continued to impress upon our hearts the necessity of seeking Him intentionally and specifically, lest we fail to miss hearing Him speak and seeing Him move in our lives and in the lives of others. And looming circumstances that we’d have preferred to leave in 2012 when the ball dropped to ring in the New Year have inevitably followed us into 2013 and with them brought the company of questions, reservations, and fears, all to the enemy’s delight. Many of you reading this blog post know all too well these feelings of apprehension. Praise be to God, for the greater portion of the year to date, I (Heather) have experienced more asymptomatic days from my pineal cyst than not. Yesterday and most of today, in fact, are the most symptomatic days I’ve experienced since late December 2012 and thankfully, this evening is ending rather asymptomatically! And while my lengthy reprieve has been an incredible blessing and relief, the past thirty-six hours have conjured up much insecurity, memories of weeks and months in excruciating pain and debilitated daily function, and have sent me running home like a scared little girl who desperately needs the comforting words and embrace of her Daddy. And it’s only February…and I’m already exhausted. At this rate, if the rest of 2013 maintains the same momentum, it’s going to be a year that isn’t soon forgotten!
This month, I’ve been reading the book “Traveling Light” by Max Lucado. This is my second trip through this simple, yet profound read, and I’m gleaning something fresh with each turn of the page as if I’ve never traveled this written journey before. For context, the book is an exposition of the 23rd Psalm which, admittedly, has always been a passage towards which my spirit bristled and my face grimaced. I have always associated the 23rd Psalm with pain and grief, for my only life association with this Psalm has been with loved ones during their end of life stages, their funeral, or their burial. It has long been a go-to passage to comfort the living in the aftermath of the deceased. Much to my surprise, however, the 23rd Psalm is a beautifully written passage that is rich in theology, and serves as a declaration of our identity in Christ, affirming the guidance, provision, peace, rest, confidence, victory, goodness, mercy, love and assurance of our faith that is ours for the taking.
The current chapter I am reading is a deep dive into verse 6 which says, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life…”. As Max shares in his book, God has given us goodness and mercy: “Goodness to supply every want. Mercy to forgive every sin. Goodness to provide. Mercy to pardon.”
Goodness and mercy aren’t mutually exclusive; they are a package deal. We need both, and God gives us both. All the days of our life. Take a minute to soak that in. Goodness and mercy, all the days of our life. If that doesn’t make you want to stand up and shout “Glory, hallelujah!” then perhaps you should ask someone to call for an ambulance because I fear that your heart has stopped beating and you are in desperate need of resuscitation!
Perhaps some of the verbiage in that verse isn’t as noteworthy to you as it is to me. Did you notice the words and phrases “Surely,” “shall follow me” and “all the days” in the text of verse six? While they each possess multiple meanings, the defining of three of the words therein merely scratches the surface of the spiritual impression they have left upon my soul.
By definition, the word “surely” means “without doubt or fail,” “rare,” and “safely or securely”. To expound further, the word “follow” is defined as “to come after in sequence or order of time, ”move behind in the same direction,” and “to attend or serve”. Finally, the definition of the word “all” reads “the whole of, referring to quantity or duration,” the greatest possible, referring to quality or degree”, and “any and every”. In the spirit of brevity, I’ll save the deeper dive into the original Hebrew text for a more lengthy exposition at a later time. For now, though, let’s apply these definitions to the Scriptural text, and to our life.
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.”
“Without a doubt, goodness and mercy will come to me at the right time, just when I need it, for the duration of my life.”
“Safely and securely, goodness and mercy are going with me wherever I go, in all circumstances, be they good or bad.”
“Like nothing else, goodness and mercy will attend to my needs at any time, in every way. ”
My goodness…excuse me while I go replenish my presently depleting supply of tissues!
The Lord brought this entire heart lesson to completion while driving home from work yesterday. My mind reeling faster than the speed I was driving, I was overcome with, what else, but fear. Fear from experiencing noticeable symptoms throughout the day after more than a month’s reprieve from them. Fear of the reality that perhaps my healing might not come divinely but surgically. Fear of the possibility of my beloved husband having to further endure my suffering. Fear that this resurgence of symptoms was simply the devil toying with my desire to unwaveringly abide in Christ, and I was succumbing to his distracting mental schemes. Fear, fear, and more fear, which was dispelled by the Chris Tomlin song “Whom Shall I Fear” that came onto the radio at the very moment I needed it (listen to the song and check out the powerful lyrics here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOkImV2cJDg). And through that song came the outpouring of God’s goodness and mercy…goodness to provide comfort and apply truth in my moment of need. Mercy to pardon my doubt, fear and lack of faith. Goodness to remind me of His presence. Mercy to enable me to get back up and stand firm under my physical affliction. Goodness to offer provision. Mercy in proportion to my need.
As I finish this piece of writing, which has literally taken God weeks to materialize it both tangibly on paper and spiritually upon my heart, I’m awaiting a call from my doctor regarding my next MRI appointment, which will determine any changes in the size or characteristics of my cyst since the last scan in September 2012, and comparatively to my initial MRI performed almost a year ago. To be completely candid and totally transparent, I long for physical healing. I cannot imagine a more compelling example of the power and mystery of God than for Him to be evidenced through divine healing! In the past week, I have witnessed God performing this very miracle in the lives of two individuals whom I personally know – one man is now cancer-free, and the other healed from a pituitary cyst on his brain. My God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20)! But, His ways are not our ways, and perhaps the most glorious way for God to reveal Himself to others through me is through surgical healing. Only God knows, and only time will tell. What I do know with absolute resolve and certainty is that the Lord has surely followed me, my health, my fears, and my spiritual adversary-the devil- from the last year into this one, and with Him came all the goodness and mercy this child of God could ever need, whenever I need it, in any circumstance, in good days and in bad. And, dear friend, the Lord has followed you as well; rest assured that there’s more than enough of His goodness and mercy to be shared amongst those who need it. Beloved, it’s time to receive your portion!