THE BOUNTY OF GRACE
David’s much-loved song, Psalm 23, is a beautiful picture of our journey with Jesus, our Shepherd, through life from spiritual infancy to our eternal destination in glory.
Like the care a mother gives to her newborn baby, God cares for and nurtures us through the early days of our walk Him. “Green pastures” and “quiet waters” are what we need as young children when we are surrounded by a hostile world. We need both protection and nourishment to guide us through the season of our initiation into this new way.
Our old nature is ever present to lure us back into our old ways, but so is the new nature, powerfully working in us by the Holy Spirit to establish our hearts in union with Jesus. Our Shepherd is beside us, guiding and goading us into the ways of doing what pleases God.
“Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.”
Philippians 2:12-13 NLT
Then comes the season of discipline and testing. Halcyon days, when nothing seems to go wrong, turn into harassing days when nothing seems to go right. What has happened? Is God mad at me? Has He left me? What have I done to lose His presence and His peace? How can I get back to that smooth and unruffled life I had at the beginning?
No, God has not left me. He has not abandoned me to my own devices because I failed/sinned myself out of grace. A new season has begun. Like the maturing process of a teenager, when discipline and training are intensified, so a loving Father begins to hone His child into a true son.
“The valley of the shadow of death” is never a pleasant experience. It’s dark… like a tunnel that seems to have no end. It’s dangerous. The path is narrow and slippery, and I have only the Shepherd’s rod of correction and His crook of protection to keep me on the path lest I fall down the precipice of fear and unbelief.
Finally, after weeks… months… perhaps years of struggle and pain, falling and getting up, standing, only to fall again. the lessons of teenage inexperience… trial and error, stubborn resistance, and rebellion… and the Father’s inexhaustible patience, begin to pay off.
I emerge from the dark valley, accompanied by my Shepherd, into the bright sunlight of a tableland of unimaginable blessing. Ahead, a table groaning with the evidence of God’s favour and goodness beckons me. He invites me to sit down and enjoy the benefits of the salvation He paid so dearly to give, freely, to me.
“What shall I return to the Lord for all his goodness to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord. I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people.”
Psalms 116:12-14 NIV
Fortified by this bounty, and daily drinking from the fountain of His goodness, my cup of blessing overflows without ceasing, into the lives of others.
I live in the assurance that my destination is God Himself. His house will be my eternal home if I remain on the path, Jesus… the Way, the Truth, and the Life… who takes me to the Father.