“Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” Psalm 23:6
When it’s all said and done, when this life is over, because of the grace God has showered on us through Word and Sacrament for the sake of His only Son Jesus Christ, we will live forever in heaven. Not some place of rolling hills or majestic mountains or wide-open prairies (although I hope heaven has some of that, too) but a house, the House of the Lord. Heaven will be “home.” And what greater place is there than home? The answer is, “at home with the Lord.” What sweet comfort that is for us now as we travel through life, sometimes in the valley of the shadow of death. Heaven is our home. Heaven is our destination. We are going home.
For two summers in my college days, I was a camp counselor. For two week periods, I was with a group of 15 boys about age 11 or 12 years old. I was the only adult supervision they had most of the time. During the day I would teach kids to swim, sail, canoe, and all the other things a kid does at camp.
At about the middle of the summer, the camp sponsored a deaf and blind camp. For one week, I would be in a cabin with 15 boys that were mostly or totally deaf. I learned rudimentary sign language. They were very patient with me and I love them all for it! There was one kid, though, that really touched my heart. They all knew I was a pre-seminary student. (To this day, my sign-language name is the letter “E” made in the motion of the word “pastor.”) While I didn’t proselytize, I didn’t hide my faith either. Mostly, I preached the gospel as St. Francis of Assisi once taught, (“Preach the Gospel. If necessary, use words.”) For some reason, this one boy really took a liking to me. He followed me around wherever I would go. He tried to dress like me, act like me, basically be like me. No matter where I went, there he was! He was a great kid, never annoying about it. I was touched deeply on the last night of camp when he sat next to me teaching me the signs for the songs we sang at the campfire. I will never forget that guy!
What a glorious summer that was!
When the Psalmist describes God as someone who’s “goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life” I think of this kid at camp. God is always there for us. He will never leave us or forsake us. He’s there when we really need Him. But He’s also there when we don’t think we need Him at all. There’s a lot of comfort in that. My camp counseling days are long past. And so are the carefree days of my youth. Now that I’m grown up, I have grown-up responsibilities. And with those responsibilities comes stress and worry. And when they overcome me, I take great comfort in the fact that God’s “goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life.” He’s always there for me. He will never forsake me.
And while we travel there through this life, God’s goodness and mercy are with us every step of the way.
The world is a complicated place. So many people today long for the days of their youth or the days of the glorious past. They remember those days as simple days, simple times. I don’t know if they ever were, or if we just like to think they were. What is sure is that today is anything but simple. Our society is complex and full of lots of noise and fury. But to take a moment and spend some time with what many consider a simple Psalm may be just what a lot of us need. It is time spent with the Good Shepherd. A time to let the world go by. To be removed from all the busyness and hustle and bustle. A moment to just be – a child of God.
That was the goal of this devotional on the 23rd Psalm. I pray that God will use these simple words of mine for His glory. I thank Him for the ability to put these words in some kind of coherent order. I thank you for reading them. I hope that the moments you spend with the Shepherd were a blessing to you.
To God be the glory!