His teenage daughter sulks to the refrigerator door and opens it dramatically. Staring into the chilled abyss she cries out, “There’s nothing to eat!” Dad walks over, looks in and somehow can see a bounty of possibilities in the same refrigerator where his daughter finds none. Part of being a Christ follower is training ourselves to find God’s abundance, our daily bread, in every context. The psalm proclaims:
Surely your goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. Psalm 23:6
Learning to see the goodness and mercy that will follow our lives, no matter what else is going on, is one blessing of life with our good shepherd. Because of that relationship, David is sure he will see it. From a practical perspective, noticing goodness and mercy on a regular basis is a matter of training and perspective. It can take practice.
When I was a high school student trying out for the basketball team, two weeks before cuts were made the coach took time to teach skills every day. One critical lesson was learning to guard in man-to-man defense. The skill was being able to always know where the man I was guarding was, stick with him, and keep my eye on the ball. Stick with your man and watch the ball. The challenge was, sometimes the guy I was guarding was on the opposite side of me and the ball. Realistically, this meant switching focus back and forth constantly because people can’t fully focus on two things at once. Peripheral vision helps immensely and learning to use peripheral vision well is crucial. In fact, good man-to-man defense can only happen when a player switches focus from the player they are guarding to the ball and back while never letting either one fully out of their sight or away from them. Being cognizant of what is going on out of the corner of our eyes, quickly switching focus to that and then back to what is in front of us, is an important defensive skill as well as an important spiritual skill.
Lord, train me to notice you, find you, keep looking back to you all the days of my life so that I see the goodness and mercy you abundantly provide. Philippians 4:8
By John Riley
Junior High Pastor