“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.” Psl. 23:6
One of the books I read this past year was John Henry Jowett’s, My Daily Meditation for the Circling Year. I learned long ago that old books, written by men and women who knew God and people, can be, and often are more relevant than those written today. This is not to say that I don’t read living authors. I do. People like J.I. Packer, Alister McGrath, John Piper, Elizabeth Elliot, Elizabeth Skoglund, Ravi Zacharias, and others, speak to my heart and mind in much the same way. But I find the language of the old writers to be not only edifying, but pleasing as well. Perhaps it’s because they are more reminiscent of my beloved old King James Bible.
I want to share an excerpt from something Jowett wrote in a devotional he called, “The Rear-guard.” It seems appropriate at end of year, and its blessed truth spoke peace to my own heart. I trust it will to yours, too. Commenting on Psalm 23:6, he writes:
But why “follow” me? Why not “go before”? Because some of my enemies are in the rear; they attack me from behind. There are foes in my yesterdays, which can give me fatal wounds. They stab me in the back! If I could only get away from the past! Its guilt dogs my steps. Its sins are ever at my heels. I have turned my face toward the Lord, but my yesterdays pursue me like a relentless hound! So I have an enemy in the rear.
This year is nearly in the can. It cannot be relived or changed. What we can do, however, is preserve the good and bury the bad. Those actions, thoughts, and events that enhanced our own walk of faith and were an encouragement to others should be built upon, but the ones that left a bitter taste in our mouth and sadness of soul should not be allowed to hover ominously in the corners of our mind like ghosts; because between us and our guilt God has provided a rearguard made up of two invincible attributes: His Goodness and Mercy. And as Jowett says, “No hound can break through that defense…My Lord is Lord of the past as well as the morrow.”
So look confidently ahead, child of God. You’re covered before and behind!