Have you ever felt like you were being followed? It’s not a good feeling. In fact, it’s pretty eerie. Most recently, a friend of mine whom I run with shared that she spotted a person driving a car seemingly traveling her path while she was out on a run. Thankfully, she was aware of what was happening and was able to take necessary precautions to protect her safety. I can certainly relate, but slightly differently. A recent string of events in my life appear to be looming in my presence, and without invitation. Other peoples’ issues, complaints and opinions flood my mental and emotional timeline and have relentlessly taken a toll on my soul. Interestingly enough one’s antagonist doesn’t appreciate opposition, even though that is their sole purpose in the life of others. Good thing for us, in the words of a very young Michael Jackson, “Just look over your shoulder honey,” because Psalm 23:6 affirms that, “Goodness and mercy shall follow you.” Such a beautiful consideration, and one that we are grateful for; but have you ever pondered why goodness and mercy was placed behind us, rather than before us?
We know that God is sovereign and could have positioned grace and mercy anywhere he designed; yet instead, in his omnipresent state of being, he understood the importance and the role that faith would play in our lives. We walk by faith, not by sight (II Corinthians 5:7), and as such faith without works is dead (James 2:17). Works require action, movement and progression. Sometimes our movement may not be reflective of who God created us to be; and in turn, we are afforded mercy, which is God’s decision to not punish us though we are certainly deserving, and grace is God’s love despite what we do. As we navigate this thing called life, we will not always walk circumspectly, in fact the more we desire and attempt to remain in relationship with the Master, the greater the likelihood of testing the light that we propose to be. While growing up on the south side of Chicago, occasionally (or often) disagreements would occur, and a determination would be made to settle it on the playground after the 3pm bell. One’s power, whether perceptual or actual, was often determined by who was standing behind them. If your crew was there to support you, it was easy to assume the position of engagement for battle. If I felt I could do anything but fail with a few people without the power of the Holy Spirit, imagine what can be done with the considerations of grace and mercy behind us as a part of our eternal posse.
Just as it’s not a good feeling in the natural when you feel as though you’re being followed, in the spiritual, it’s not a good feeling if you feel like you’re not. Since we are told that grace and mercy will follow us, and both are entangled with the philosophy of unconditional love, when we are moving with the sensation of the absence of God, its consumingly challenging to comprehend that he is with us despite how we feel, despite what we hear and despite what we see. Yet we will never know what we are capable of, better still, what God is capable of if we do not make attempt.
When I run, I use an app to monitor my distance as well as my pace. When I slow down, I hear a voice on the program announce, “activity paused.” When I resume to at minimum the level I was maintaining prior to the disruption, I hear, “activity resumed.” Its not always easy. I’m often tired, or traveling up a hill, or find myself in inclement weather, trying to get back to my car; it may be hot, or for that matter, cold, and I may be out of water, energy and the desire to go on – but nevertheless, I am not alone. For all that I do right, and for all that I admittedly don’t, I am extended grace and mercy from the Father. And guess what? This rule of thumb applies to our enemies as well. As believers we are extended this dual insurance policy of grace and mercy, minus the premium! The other fact that we must recall and never forget is that the grace and mercy also covers our past, that which is behind us. No need to worry or punish ourselves over former mistakes because they are immaterial. Just look over your shoulder honey!