“Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life.” Psalm 23:6
This verse has always struck me as a smooth and fitting ending to the most recited and known psalm in the Bible. It is also one that never fell into the category of cliche for me. It has been a verse of promise and hope for much of my life.
However, it has taken on a new shape recently in my life. Goodness following me, all my days, everyday, unable to escape it, being constantly enveloped in the goodness only God can give – what a concept! What a theoretical concept; theoretical because before the past few years of my life Psalm 23:6 has been just that, a theory a hypothesis, a hope, my hope that if I continue to follow God, as he walks with me his goodness and mercy WOULD follow me, one day in the future, not necessarily right now.
The past week I felt the goodness of God following me and to be honest it has scared the shit out of me. Moments come where I realize and receive this goodness and I’ll say, “Wow! God has been so good to me, to us.” but mostly I cannot seem to look goodness in the eye for fear it will either overwhelm me or it will vanish like a bird vanishes when a toddler runs after it.
I feel there is so much goodness in my life now and listing it would take too much space in this blog and not really do justice to the depth and intricacy I experience. I will say, I have been given so much, so many opportunities to influence culture, people, my family. I get to see people as they are and be seen as I am. I am surrounded by goodness on all sides and when my feet fail me I fall but somehow I keep falling into goodness.
So much good – so much good that it would not be accurate to say goodness WILL follow me but that goodness IS following me, almost haunting me and even overwhelming me.
I truly believe I have a low capacity or tolerance for goodness. As a child I learned that goodness had a limit and once it reached that limit no more was allowed, but unfortunately my capacity was severely students because goodness never lasted long in my home. Mom and Dad had a few good days in a row and then something would happen – a fight between them or a fight with a neighbor or co-worker. Because my parents had a goodness capacity they knew when the turn the knob to the right and shut down the free flow of ease, peace and joy. I learned to do the same.
My internal narrative grew to be, goodness doesn’t last. Goodness had a shelf-life, once it hung around for too long it was best to throw it out. Goodness randomly came and randomly left and as unpredictable as it was I learned to predict that goodness could not be trusted.
As an adult I learned to simply put a cap of goodness, to limited it before it limited itself. I learned to keep it at an arm’s length, to talk about it but not to it and even then I did talk about it I talked vaguely because I knew the one thing that will put goodness to flight is to simply accept it.
I have a son coming in May and as I say that I also recognize my fear that something could happen that keeps me from coming. Some of that is rational and several of friends and family have experience the sadness of losing a child. But most of my fear is because of my basic mistrust of goodness. I am afraid and that is slowly coming into focus but it is not the fear of being a father of two children or even being the father of a son, which truly does scare the shit out of me. Rather it is the fear that goodness IS following me, not one day in the future but right now as I type this.
Maybe goodness has always been following me. I like to talk about how good God has been and I like to dream about how good he will be in my life but I have a hard time accepting and receiving the goodness of God right now, in this season of life. I’m going to practice that this week. I’m going to celebrate good things. I’m also going to receive the fear, thank it for protecting me all these years and invite it to join in on the celebration.
My goodness capacity is being stretched and that makes sense because you can’t put new wine into old wineskins ((You can’t eat cats, Kevin. You can’t eat cats) For all my office peeps out there)). Anyway, join me in accepting goodness and go as far as celebrating it. See what happens.