"The only real, practical measure for the goodness and mercy of God to me is the extent to which I am, in turn, prepared to show goodness and mercy to others.... It is this lack of love among Christians which today makes the church an insipid, lukewarm institution.... But men and women who know firsthand about the goodness and mercy of God in their own lives will be warm and affectionate with goodness and mercy to others. This is to be a benefit to them, but equally important, it is to be a blessing to God.... Nothing pleased me more than to see my flock flourish and prosper.... It was a reward for my efforts and energy.... Most of us forget that our Shepherd is looking for some satisfaction as well." (W. Phillip Keller, A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, pp 162-163)
Some time ago, I sensed God was telling me to be more vulnerable; to open up and share more about me with others. I took that idea and rammed my way through many opportunities.
When my attempt to be open and vulnerable was met with rejection, I chose to bolt. I thought I was "shaking the dust off my feet" (Matthew 10:14). Seems God is clarifying his instructions these days.
It's neither my weaknesses nor my knowledge he's asking me to share. It is his goodness and mercy. Not just in word, but more significantly by passing it on the way I've experienced it from him.
I've said and done some stupid things but God has always shown mercy to me. I have seldom shown mercy to those who have said or done things that hurt or discouraged me.
The place I have seen mercy lived out most is in the prison. Through Kairos Prison Ministry, God introduced me to women who recognize the goodness and mercy of God in their own lives. They are warm and affectionate, offering goodness and mercy to others in a very hostile environment. Seeing that warmth and affection in a 30 year old woman imprisoned since age 16 for multiple murders, causes me to question my response to God's mercy and goodness.
I continue to be amazed at His patience with me. There are many scriptures I can quote and even teach passionately. Today, I'm reminded it is more important to put into practice the knowledge he has given me out of his mercy and goodness. I'd save myself a lot of embarrassment and frustration, not to mention the satisfying smile I could bring to my Shepherd's face.
The one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete. ~Luke 6:49
God of wonders big and small, I am sorry for not showing my appreciation for your goodness and mercy. Please forgive me. Give me opportunities today to show goodness and mercy to those I encounter - whether it be a reckless motorist, a whiny child, or an intentionally hurtful acquaintance. You are my Shepherd. You calm me, care for me, and provide everything I need. May I look to you when I'm attacked by another sheep or from an outside predator. Your rod and your staff are my protection. I will trust in you.