Summary: We have assurance that we will make if safely home because of the rear forces and future focus of our lives.
“Go in Peace: Security for the Way”
Pastor Mark Mitchell once reflected on running a marathon. He said he trained hard to be as prepared as possible, but “there's a part of a marathon that's always hard to prepare for. A marathon is just a little over 26 miles, but experts tell you not to run over 20 miles in your training. That means the last six miles of a marathon are "no man's land." You don't know what you're getting yourself into. You may hit a wall. You may have cramps. You only know that it's going to be tough. But you also try to believe that if you train hard enough, you will be ready and will be able to cross that glorious finish line.” In some ways, the Christian life has the same dynamic; we try our best to follow Jesus, but there is a “no man’s land” of uncertainty that we will all go through before he finish line. How do we know we’re ready for the end? What’s to say we won’t get to the end and find it all untrue? Can we be sure we’ll cross the finish line? What security do we have that we’re on the right path and will make it safely home?
David concludes his Psalm by addressing our security: “Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” We have assurance because of the rear forces and future focus of our lives. David points first to THE REAR FORCES. “Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life…” It was common for shepherds to have 2 sheep dogs that would follow the flock; they were the rear guard to protect the flock and to keep an eye out for wandering sheep. Goodness and love, inseparable twins of grace, are our sheep dogs. In Psalm 86:15 David wrote “But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness” and in Ps. 103:8 “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in love.” The rear forces of goodness and love.
Consider GOD’S GOODNESS. Goodness refers to all the benefits of God’s presence. Just ask yourself, “What advantage is there in having God around?” We could compile a lengthy list in response to the question, but perhaps the simplest answer is to review what David has already laid out in Psalm 23 – The Lord who rules the world is our shepherd, so we are not in want. He refreshes, renews and restores us; He guides us along right paths that will lead us home; He is with us even in the darkest valleys where He comforts us; He celebrates our victory even in the presence of our enemies; He anoints us and fills our lives with abundant blessings. In other words IN ALL THINGS GOD WORKS FOR OUR GOOD. As with a recipe that combines unlikely ingredients for a tasty final result, so God takes all the events of our lives and works them together for the good.
Consider John 9. As Jesus and his disciples were journeying they passed by a man blind from birth. The disciples tried to get at the cause of his blindness; but Jesus responded, “... this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.” It had to do with God’s goodness. Remember also Paul’s memorable words (Rom. 8:28), “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who live him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Rev. William Goulooze, an RCA pastor who wonderfully chronicled his battle with the cancer which ultimately claimed his life, wrote: “The balance sheet of life does not always seem to tally right. We are face to face with some impossible realities and we cannot add them up to profit and blessing. We see some ridiculous experiences in the back yard of our own lives and we see them daily in the lives of others. We just cannot figure things out according to the arithmetic of earth. Problems, more problems, and greater calamities befall us. Like Job, one messenger after another brings us bad tidings. Crestfallen and downbeaten by the machinery of affliction, we are very low in spirit. We just cannot see rhyme or reason in our affliction. ‘Good in the end’ means that when the final tally is made, and when all the scores are in, the net result of affliction, yea of all of life is good in the sight of God, because He made the experience to result in the good He planned from the beginning.” Whatever comes, whatever happens, the goodness of God kicks in. God’s goodness is always a rear forces in our lives.