Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD my whole life long. (Psalm 23.6)
Take a moment…please…and read…of if a voice of remembrance in hour heart, whisper to yourself Psalm 23. When completed, say again, more than a whisper, the last verse about goodness and mercy and dwelling with God, which reciprocates for every breath in God’s dwelling with us.
The trigger point was not giving up or in. I laugh to myself with my first sermon. Maybe 16, and at times I’m sure pushing half-that and other times pushing adulthood. [Ah, how the mind functions and in that year, maybe smacked reality in my face….being 16 was more, much more, than earning a driver’s license!
Still, I remember I fastened upon one passage from the book of Paul’s letter to the Philippians, 3:12-14, about pressing on, about not “untrying,” about growing and reaching and in later language never establishing mediocrity as a moral principle.
The capstone of my sermon was reached. Okay. At 16, well short of college and seminary and having never heard the word, “exegesis,” [I might have thought that was a condition needing penicillin!] I read about one of the Ten Commandments. But not from the Bible. Nope.
It was from Billy Southworth in his “Ten Commandments of Baseball.” The capstone of my sermon. He wrote and I’m sure I spoke with emphasis…not sure the body language of emphasizing, but I tried to look more urgent, “If what you did yesterday looks big to you, then you haven’t done much today.”
It seemed to fit. About trying. I betcha you could have said my sermon, with a strong maybe, “down deep was shallow.”
Then this week I read Tom Ehrich’s meditation and saw the deeper part of trying, which really has more to do with God than with any of our achievements or, I might coin, “under achievements.”
So, Tom, take it away and touch the hearts and grace the souls of my readers and make sure they look more often with focus through the windshield and only glance at the rear-view mirror:
“Thanks to the grace and never-failing love of God, the Psalmist said, the ‘goodness and mercy’ of God are always with us. God is steadfast. No matter where we go, no matter how flat we feel or distracted, we always ‘dwell in the house of the Lord.’ We try, we fail, we take new roads, we change jobs, we rewrite our daily lives, we allow new people in, we fall far short of our callings and capabilities, we get lost – but at every stage we are dwelling with God.
As I sat there spinning out a fresh web, God was with me. That presence didn’t guarantee success. But it did give me the courage to try. Keep reaching high. Keep exploring new roads. Keep taking risks. Keep failing, and picking myself up. The point is to try.
That is what I want to share with you. Keep on trying. Some of you write, some do other things. Some work hard all day, some are easing into retirement, some are well along in aging. Trying means different things at every life stage. But God always blesses us with courage.”