Surely…

Surely…[I am stunned at

the thought of surely].

Surely goodness, surely mercy,

The rest of my life. Wow!

Surely…the psalmist trusts

God and the promises,

covenants, commandments,

blessings, grace, love, Word.

 

Surely…something to count on,

Something to bet one’s life on.

Are there other surely’s?

Death and taxes? Surely love out-

weighs them, makes them

insignificant. Surely…love.

Is there anything else?

Nothing else compares.

 

Surely…all of God is contained

In that word: creation, grace,

blessings, love, mercy, forgive-

ness, presence. And in

God’s presence, surely there

Is nothing else needed.

 Isn’t it strange how a word I’ve heard all my life, but that is pretty much confined to one psalm, suddenly rings bells in me. How many times have I heard, read or sung the 23rd Psalm? Hundreds at least! Yet two weeks ago I heard “surely” in a whole new way—it rang out loud and clear. Hearing it in a new way silenced me, stunned me. Of all the words in the Bible—by Strong’s count there are 9597 Hebrew words—this one word has touched me more than any other.

 “Surely, goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life” is how the KJV would have it. In the American Standard Version it reads “Surely goodness and loving-kindness.” The NRSV echoes the KJV. In the NIV the translation goes: “surely your goodness and love.” Going a little farther afield, The Message, a paraphrase of the Bible in contemporary language, reads “your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life.” This echoes the note I found in my NSRV, a Renovaré Spiritual Formation Bible: “goodness and mercy shall follow me. ‘Mercy’ here is God’s hesed, the love that never quits. It is a love that doesn’t just follow, but always pursues us. To perceive God’s love as pursuing rather than begrudged deepens our ability to trust.” [p. 795, Psalm 23]

 Surely, mercy appears in Jesus’ Beatitudes in “Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy.”[Matthew 5] As Cynthia Bourgeault tells it in The Wisdom Jesus, this is about flow, an exchange of mercy flowing between us and God, us and others whom we treat mercifully.

Here is another case of “surely” there is mercy all the rest of my life whenever I express mercy to another. Once I come into and accept God’s mercy, then I will be on the way of mercy for the rest of my life. I am not sure that we can separate mercy from love or mercy and love from forgiveness or mercy and love and forgiveness from grace. They are facets of the same love that flows out to us from God, if we will but notice and receive.

 Surely, then God’s love doesn’t just await our return(as in the Prodigal Son Parable, but it pursues us! Surely may be the only truly descriptive word that should accompany God!

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