Now and Forever!
Now and Forever! 2 Corinthians 5:1-7 Psalm 23:1-6
Of course, the 23rd Psalm is more familiar in our hearing from the KJV: “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.”
These are among the most comforting and reassuring words in the whole of God’s Word. In fact, the 23rd Psalm is often listed among the most memorized and cherished of scripture. They’re words that even people who don’t go to church, and people who don’t practice the faith, are at least familiar with...
The Psalmist, David, is speaking in personal terms, saying: “Surely... without doubt... the goodness and unfailing love of the Lord, my Shepherd (the one who feeds me, guides me, and shields me from evil)... will follow after me all the days of my life, and I will live in the shelter of the LORD’s presence, forever.”
Of course, when David proclaimed that God’s goodness would “follow” him, he was NOT saying, “Surely only good things are going to happen to me!” or “Surely, only blessings, and wealth, and happiness will come into my life.”
David knew as well as anyone... that bad things happen to good people.
David was saying that God’s goodness would follow after or pursue him. No... matter... what! No matter how bad or evil or difficult something seems, God can work it out for good.
It’s one of God’s great promises that he’s given to believers: Everything that happens to us is working for our good - if we love God and are called according to His design and purpose (see Romans 8:28). As followers of Christ... as believers... the Bible says all things are working together for good - not that all things are good, but that all things are working together for our good.
Think about it for a minute: How have you seen God use the welcomed, and not-so-welcomed, events and circumstance of your life, for the good... for His greater good... and your greater good? Or maybe even for the greater good of another person!
There’s no difficulty, dilemma, defeat, or disaster in the life of a believer that God can’t ultimately turn toward his better purpose - his good purpose!
What an amazing thought... and what a wonderful comfort it is... to know that God’s goodness and mercy - God’s unfailing love - follows us in life... it pursues us... working all things for good.
I imagine a parent following a little child around picking up after them. Or at least trying to keep them out of the toilet. Of course, some days it’s a victory if you can keep the two year old from eating out of the dog’s bowl.
When we’re struggling with hurts, habits, and hang-ups, God is coming right alongside us, helping to pick up our messes... reminding us over and over that his unfailing love is always there.
So instead of fretting what tomorrow may hold... or worrying about what the future may bring... you and I, as followers of Christ, can face all of our future tomorrow’s with the confident assurance that God is with us no matter what life brings our way! He will help us navigate the ups and downs of life: “Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the Lord’s presence forever.”
Think about what God’s Word is telling us: God’s goodness will provide and protect. God’s mercy (unfailing love) will pardon and forgive. God’s goodness will supply our needs. God’s mercy will soothe and heal our wounds. God’s goodness will help us navigate this life.
Goodness and mercy work together... and are experienced every time God gives us good things in life that we don’t deserve. And every time God withholds many of the things we DO deserve (condemnation, punishment, eternal death).
We preacher types often use the 23rd Psalm... and particularly the last verse, at funerals. It reminds us, and rightfully so, that we, as believers, will forever and ever live in God’s eternal house. He has prepared a place for each of us, with Him, in heaven.
But that’s not the only thing this verse implies. Think about it... when David was inspired to write these words, he was very much ALIVE.
I’ve said before, that I believe the last stanza of the hymn “Amazing Grace” is one of the most theologically sound stanzas in the whole hymnal. Because that stanza is saying pretty much the very same things that Psalm 23 is saying. “When we’ve been there (in heaven) ten-thousand years... we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise, than when we first begun.”
IN other words, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.”
IN other words, so long as I have breath, God’s goodness and mercy pursues me... and I will dwell in God’s presence, both now (in this life)... and in the life to come for all of eternity.
God’s goodness and mercy connects all of our “today’s” with all of our “tomorrow’s.”
God says, “I’ve got this great life, full and abundant life... for you... and surely, without any shadow of doubt... my goodness and mercy will follow you through every moment... bringing you, eventually, into the very presence (the house) of the One who loved you first, and loves you most.” God goodness and mercy builds to a crescendo.
Our life in Christ begins NOW... while we’re breathing! But, Jesus saves the best until last. With God it just keeps getting better and better. The best is always yet to come.
“Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands” (2 Corinthians 5:1 NIV).
God’s unfailing love, goodness... God’s mercy... pursuing you and me... now and forever. That’s Good News if I’ve ever hear it!