Grace Leads … Goodness & Mercy Follows
by Joseph Franks
I need a pastor, and the Lord is my gracious shepherd.
I need one who fulfills. I desire what I desire. I desire good things, I desire wrong things, and I desire good things at the wrong time. However, I do not need to overthink this, for my shepherd always provides exactly what is best at any particular time. Therefore, I can say with confidence, I am lacking nothing.
I need rest, and he is the one who makes me lie down in green pastures. He encourages me to Sabbath — externally and internally — with him.
I need sustenance, and he consistently provides me with the greenest grass and cleanest water.
I need a teacher. I need someone to show me the paths of righteousness — those things that make my Shepherd’s name great. Even more than this, I need someone to go there alongside me; sometimes even carrying me. Yes, I need a strong mentor to lead me in the good way.
I need a protector. I am aware that my Lord can vanquish all our joint enemies with the power of his word, and I know he will do so one day. However, for now, my Lord has reason to allow them to exist and cause trouble. Therefore, until the day he leads me to my final resting place, while we walk together through many dark and dangerous valleys, I will fear not. Why? Because my all-powerful and all-loving protector is with me.
I need a father who lovingly disciples and disciplines me. The Lord has a rod and staff, and I have seen him use it on his enemies. However, he never treats me in such a manner. He is so loving, compassionate, and kind even as he seriously trains me. So, we both love it when he uses his long staff. And we both cry when he finds it necessary to use his shorter rod. However, let me say it one more time — all of his disciplinary measures are dripping with compassion, and I find comfort in knowing he will not let me go.
I need communion. I need quantity and quality time with my Lord, and he loves to dine with me. Therefore, though we are surrounded by haters on every side, he takes the time to set the table, provide the food, serve the drink, and play the role of the host. He glories in me as I intimately partake in his presence. He is the King. I am his beloved. I love these sacred and intimate meals, and it’s almost unbelievable, but he does too.
I need tender care. The Great Physician is constantly anointing my head. He is faithful to nurture my wounds, keep the insects away, and treat me as tenderly as any mother.
I deserve none of this, and yet my Shepherd’s super-abundant grace keeps coming. Grace upon grace he pours out upon me — so much grace that I cannot contain it. My cup overflows. Such shall be the case as I journey with him on this earth — his grace, love, goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life. And what happens next? Even more grace is over the horizon, for I have a reservation in glory. I will dwell in the presence of the Lord forever.
My shepherd is my good neighbor. He is my friend. My shepherd is my savior. I call him my Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, and Everlasting Father. He is my Prince of Peace. I am his, and he is mine, and nothing will ever change this relationship. He is the Lord, and I am his betrothed bride. Therefore, it is time for me to leave you now. Why? Because Jesus wishes to converse with me for a few minutes; he has told me so. He waits. I need to talk with him now. I want to talk with him now. He has more grace, goodness, and mercy for me.
Oh, but before I go, allow me to say one more thing. In my last meeting with him, I was reading his letter and he informed me of something. Here it is — he waits to talk with you too. Intimately, privately, and graciously he wants to commune with you. So what are you doing? What could be more important? What could be more beautiful? Will you keep him waiting? Grace, goodness, and mercy await anyone who calls upon the Lord.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.