Goodness and Mercy

vintage sheep dogs illustration public domain | Free Vintage ...

Image Description: An illustration of sheep dogs with black, white, and brown fur. One is lying down, and one is standing up. Public domain illustration.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.

Many years ago, while preaching on Psalm 23, one of my most formational people shared that this phrase can evoke imagery of sheep dogs — as if goodness and mercy continually guide us and lead us, not always in front of us, but often from behind us. We are followed by goodness and mercy in ways that shape our path. Sometimes, goodness and mercy might even limit our path necessarily because they’re steering us away from danger.

They are behind us, following us.
I find this interesting because we don’t always choose to follow goodness and mercy.
Sometimes, we follow other instincts.
Perhaps we need them working behind the scenes.

Goodness and mercy can reveal
what is most true,
what is most needed,
what is necessary for change,
what is expansive for growth,
what is invited for healing, and
what is possible, even when it feels as if no pathway is possible.

Guilt and shame are never good guides.
We don’t need these to hem us in.

We need goodness and mercy.
These form us best and cultivate the best pathways.

Behind us,
Shaping what is before us.

Renee Roederer

 

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