by Alison Willis
“GOD, my shepherd!
I don’t need a thing.
You have bedded me down in lush meadows,
you find me quiet pools to drink from.
True to your word,
you let me catch my breath
and send me in the right direction.
Even when the way goes through
I’m not afraid
when you walk at my side.
Your trusty shepherd’s crook
makes me feel secure.
You serve me a six-course dinner
right in front of my enemies.
You revive my drooping head;
my cup brims with blessing.
Your beauty and love chase after me
every day of my life.
I’m back home in the house of GOD
for the rest of my life.
- King David, Psalm 23 (The Message interpretation), C.1500 BC.
Your beauty and love chase after me. In the rugged pasture. In the harsh environs. In the rolling hills. In the swelling oceans. In the wet, the cold, the hot, the dry. In the concrete jungles, in the institutional corridors, on the road, on the verge. Beauty and love chase you.
Another translation of King David’s original Hebrew text reads: “Surely goodness and mercy have followed me.” For me, surely they had. Goodness and mercy were restoring and detoxing my soul.
Here’s the thing: goodness and mercy will always relentlessly follow after us. I believe that while God hangs the stars in the sky amid seemingly endless dark matter, and while the tides are constrained by “thus far and no further,” the goodness and mercy of God will follow you. Wherever you go.
Paul of Tarsus (60 A.D) put it this way: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?... 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35-39 NIV).
If Wisdom permeates both the environment and the human condition, then Love relentlessly pursues us. (Capital letters intended). For me, it is both comforting and confronting to know that the Love that holds the planets in orbit is so far beyond my comprehension that nothing I could do or think could negate it. This pursuit is not dependent on my merits and is not deterred by my demerits.
When I realised that my knowledge, ideas, opinions, history, and hang-ups were as small as I was and would only ever be as big and I am, I was overwhelmed with the magnitude of Wisdom and Love personified. Valued, loved, pursued by goodness and mercy.
God, help me to allow your love and beauty to overtake me. Your love is far greater than my comprehension, it is more vast than the universe, and yet you pursue me. Help me keep things in perspective.