Following Christ first, blessings will follow

Rev. Dr. Chad McMullin - First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Last week, the kids at Vacation Bible School studied the 23rd Psalm. I listened intently as the kids told me about the good shepherd and the sheep. They talked about being “sheep” that follow the good shepherd, then they made funny sheep sounds. The little ones really love making sheep sounds. It was all fun and games and Bible stories.

The next morning, I came to the church and read my devotional for the day. It was also about following the shepherd. Later in the day, I bumped into a chapter in a book that I was reading that was all about being “sheep” who follow the Christ. Three unconnected resources were all pointing toward the same idea. When seemingly random dots begin to connect in my life, I pay close attention. Was this a coincidence? Was it merely coincidence that our VBS lesson and conversations matched perfectly with my daily devotional and with my reading in a separate unconnected book?

Part of me believes this is often more than coincidence. I believe God sometimes seeks to communicate with us through what might look like coincidence — some have called this serendipity. Either it is merely a fortuitous inter-meshing of events, or it is my God trying to show me something. My faith chooses to believe that God is reaching out to me. I believe that there are times when God really wants us to pay attention to something and God goes to great lengths to get our attention.

As I read this beautiful psalm of David, it became clear again that as you follow the good shepherd, goodness and mercy follow you. Verse 6 really stood out this time. Did you catch verse 6? It says, “goodness and mercy shall follow me…” It occurred to me I had been missing a big part of this truth. It occurred to me the blessings of goodness and mercy would follow me — as long as I follow him. It was clear to me following him was first and goodness and mercy followed after me was second.

It was an image in my mind — me following Christ — goodness and mercy following after me. All in a nice orderly fashion. Perhaps God was reminding me that I had been so preoccupied with the hunger for the blessings that I began to pursue the blessings instead of pursuing Him. I was reminded by this fortuitous inter-meshing of events that I had things out of order. My reminder couldn’t be more clear: as you follow the good shepherd, his goodness, mercy and the blessings in life will follow after you!

I’m sure I am not the only one who has gotten this out of skew from time to time. Many of us get this backwards. We find ourselves pursuing the blessings instead of pursuing the one who provides the blessings. Maybe today, you will be reminded our God is a God who blesses. God wants to richly bless each of us. God has created for us a pathway in life that can and does lead to life’s greatest blessings! Perhaps God is reminding you right now that instead of pursuing the blessings your first concern is to pursue the one who blesses. While you pursue him, do not concern yourself with the blessings — simply trust that they are following after you.

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall will dwell in the house of the LORD my whole life long (NRSV Psalm 23:6).”

Rev. Dr. Chad McMullin

First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

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