They say that there are real people who get up early and pull on running shoes and do just that, run, run down to the corner and turn and keep going until the sweat beads like a fiery crowning and their lungs heave till they might actually explode and it’s possible to feel like this is really the exercise of your life.
I had told my mother that once:
Your whole life can feel like you are running for your very life, like you are trying to out run a tsunami of stress.
Trying to stay ahead of everything that’s nipping hard at your heels. Whole decades can be marked by exhaustion.
The pastor had preached it and I had sat there between the kids and tried to keep my mind focused on the words and not the whirl of to-do lists in my head. He had had us stand and recite Psalm 23. Had us say it right out loud: Surely goodness and mercy shall pursue all the days of my life.
He said that you can think goodness and mercy just follow you, but the Hebrew word for ‘follow’ is ‘radaph’ and it means to “to pursue, to run after, to chase” or, quite literally, “to hunt you down”. The word radaph, that one that goodness and mercy is doing in Ps. 23:6, it is first found in Genesis 14, when Abram discovers that his nephew Lot has been kidnapped and Abram gathers an army of 318 men and “pursued them unto Dan” (Genesis 14:14). The word ‘pursued’ there? It’s is ‘radaph’.
I come home from Sunday sermon and write it in white on the blackboard. Radaph!
And I can feel it, how when a new week starts to run after me, the goodness and mercy of God isn’t just following after me placidly. The goodness and mercy of God pursues after me passionately. It’s what I keep thinking, picking up lost legos, errant books — like how my mama used to dash off the front porch and run down the lane after me, waving about whatever book I forgot for school — and who else is behind a forgetful, rat-race world but the chasing God?
God is so bent on blessing, He chases.
God’s not out to get you — He’s out to give to you.
And God’s blessings don’t pursue temporarily — but relentlessly.
It’s right there in His Word: His goodness and mercy pursue me not just some days — but all the days of my life.
When I’m in a wilderness, His mercy and goodness run after me.
When I’m hurting, His grace hunts for me.
When I’m plagued by problems, His goodness pursues me.
No matter where I go, He has his two blessing men right there in hot pursuit: goodness and mercy, and no shadow of death can overshadow the goodness and mercy that shadows the child of God.
Even the discipline of the Lord can be a grace of the Lord and all the interruptions of a day can be the intercessions of Christ.
I whisper it to myself when it’s noon on the first day of the week and everything is closing in on me and I am already behind:
Whatever is chasing you — no matter what it looks like — it’s grace.
And grace isn’t what makes us feel good: grace is all that makes us more like Jesus.
I can breathe deeper. I could smile. I don’t have to feel anything pressing on my chest — I could live relieved. Like I can re-live.
Because the real truth is: God wants to bless more than we want to be to be blessed. So why run from whatever God is giving? It’s only got to be for my ultimate good and His ultimate glory.
We don’t live in pursuit of a better life — it’s the blessed life that’s in pursuit of us.
It’s there on the counter, that open journal where I count gifts, and it may feel like I’m looking for goodness and mercy, but it’s grace and mercy that finds me.
No one chases grace — but grace chases everyone.
I feel like a happy fool making lunch in the kitchen, piano notes banging loud in the basement, washing machine humming too, and I am laughing over nothing, over everything, over joy, a love like this. Radaph on the wall, goodness and mercy everywhere --
And nothing can overwhelm me — like grace can overtake me.
No matter when you look over your shoulder, that’s what you find: God’s blessings overtaking you.
No matter what a day, a life, looks like, this is what it all stacks up to for every person on the planet: We are all chased by grace.
No matter what is hounding, the Hound of Heaven is closer — His warm breath of blessing right there on the nape of my neck.
And in the kitchen, with the timer beeping — I reach over, kiss a boy smack on the forehead,
the world full of His goodness and mercy and Glory --
and I am slowed and I turn right around.
“Surely Your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life…” Ps. 23:6 NLT
“Your beauty and love chase after me …” Ps. 23:6 MSG
…. that He RADAPHs after us with beauty and love goodness and mercy — chased by grace! more of His endless, One Thousand Gifts … thanks be to God for all of His blessings.