Friday, December 19, 2008

Goodness Gracious!

The economy is shedding jobs like a golden retriever in the Sahara Desert and many people are facing a scary, uncertain future because of it. A man in my Sunday School class broke down in tears last Sunday, because he’s a Bush appointee who’s going to be unemployed on January 20th— in exactly one month—unless something close to miraculous happens. It's an awful time to have to look for work. I felt ashamed because I worry about my future employment, and I have a great job with the U.S. Navy (at least until September 30th next year).

As far as my pessimism goes, I’m usually somewhere between a Marsh-wiggle and Chicken Little. Yet despite my glass-half-full outlook I’m often surprised when the fig tree actually does blossom, when there’s fruit on the vine, when the fields yield produce, when the flocks are not cut off from the fold, and when the herd remains in the stall (Hab. 3:17). Time and again, I have experienced unexpected good things. Why?

Well, the answer might just be in the very first Bible passage I ever committed to memory as a child. Do you remember the first Scripture you ever memorized? For me it was the 23rd Psalm, which begins “The Lord is my Shepherd. . . .” You probably know it by heart too. Remember the part that says “surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life”(v. 6)? That word “follow” (Heb. yirdephuni from the root word radaph) actually means to pursue, chase, or hunt down.(1) The goodness of God is not trudging behind us at a leisurely pace while we wait for it to catch up. It’s hot on our heels like a cheetah after a sick antelope!

(1) I was recently reminded of this meaning by R. Wayne Stacy in his sermon “The Hound of Heaven,” in The Search: The Soul’s Secret Signature (Nashville: Fields, 2000), 43-48.

1 comment:

  1. I feel bad for that man in your class, and I wonder if that situation would ever happen to my husband. I feel pretty secure in my job, and by taking classes to get my degree I am doing all I can to prepare for the future. But God does have ways of ensuring that we all trust in Him, not horses or chariots, and that is my ultimate comfort.
    I am not so sure I like comparing myself to a sick antelope, but it does work... He chases me and I cling to Him. Thanks for the post, I've been looking for one all week.