“The God of my mercy shall prevent me.” Psalm 59:10 (KJV)
Maurice Boyd, former pastor of Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York City, tells in his book “A Lover’s Quarrel with the World,” about a lay preacher named Hugh Redwood. While staying as a guest in a home he picked up a Bible and turned to Psalm 59:10 and read the verse you see above. The word prevent, he realized had changed meaning. Today it means to stop someone from doing something, but the King James Version had retained the old English meaning, “to go before.” The verse literally meant, “The God of my mercy shall go before me.”
Then he noticed a handwritten comment someone had scribbled in the margin almost as a commentary on the verse, “My God in His lovingkindness shall meet me around every corner.” The anonymous writer shared what it looks like to experience God going before us. Boyd says that story reminds us that “God is not only behind us in forgiveness and with us a loving, strengthening Presence, God is also out in front of us beckoning us into a future that is already filled with his goodness.”
This season of stewardship we are going to focus on this idea of turning the corner. God is always out in front of us, but not always in plain view. Often God is around the corner inviting us to keep going, keep walking by faith, keep trusting that we will see and experience His presence. But to get there we will have to turn. To keep going the same direction may miss what God wants for us.
Is that a helpful, and perhaps even challenging word, for you today? Do you need to turn any corners right now? Have you found yourself getting caught up in the negative propaganda of the political campaign season? Do you find yourself feeling less hopeful about the future? Are you going in a direction of anxiety? Do you worry that your resources might not be sufficient for a future that looks stormy?
Stop! Turn the corner. The God of my mercy shall prevent me! God is going before us. God is out in front of us. We may not see it in the direction we are going. But all we have to do is turn the corner. That’s a spiritual move, but it has practical implications. Consider some ways to help make that turn: commit to a new pattern of worship attendance between now and Christmas; take a bigger step of stewardship; make time for yourself to enjoy the beauty of the season, to pray, and to be with friends. Sometimes getting to a new level of peace isn’t complicated. We just need to turn a corner toward God.
See you around the corner in worship!