Sometimes it feels like we got away. It seems like we outmaneuvered God somehow or that circumstances we couldn’t control put us out of reach of his protection and healing. Those are hard times. We can’t pretend they’re not hard times. We just can’t see any relief at the end of the rainbow. We can’t even see the rainbow. Then we realize our Shepherd is willing to be unconventional. Sometimes he lets the sheep go first. He chooses not to be out front in a pillar of blazing hope. Sometimes he catches up with us from behind. We learn this the hard way over a lifetime of faith. “Even when the way goes through Death Valley . . . your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life” (Psalm 23:4,6 MSG). Even when we want to look forward, and believe in looking forward, sometimes we can only go on by remembering God’s past mercy to us.
The Lord is our Good Shepherd who gives us all those nice things we cherish: green pastures, quiet waters, overflowing cups. What makes him an absolutely Great Shepherd is that he relentlessly, without interruption, pursues us in his grace. His goodness and mercy are always following us; always closing in on us; always on the verge of overcoming our pain, heartache, loss, and grief. We know from past experience he will catch up. And we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.