As you go forth today, may our loving Lord go with you.
May He go before you to show you the Way,
Behind you to encourage you,
Above you to watch over and care for you,
Beside you to be your friend,
And within you to fill you with His peace, His love, and His uncontainable joy.
It is remarkably odd the memories which stick with you from your childhood, while contrasted with those which seem to fall away into forgetfulness. In fact, mother will often tease me about this very thing. She will recall experiences from my childhood which she had carefully crafted to provide me with wonderful memories to reflect on years down the road, yet which I now have no recollection of. Meanwhile, the most obscure, unplanned, seemingly minuscule occurrences find themselves seared into my psyche, laden with meaning. I remember finger-painting the slide in our back yard with my mother. I remember the plum trees which used to grow in the yard of our first house, and how I would often pause in my imaginative play to pluck a piece of fruit and bite into the juicy morsel. I remember this benediction.
This was long before I came to know Jesus personally, and my first recollection of this benediction was not a positive one. This was given at the culmination of the service in a rather large Lutheran church, and something about it felt contrived and forced. There was, within it, this ghastly assumption that God – this God that we were taught to be holy and exalted, creator of all that is, almighty King of the heavens – could be EXPECTED to condescend to our level and interact meaningfully in our daily lives. Empty promises. Manipulative rhetoric. Meaningless words. My first recollection of this benediction was not a positive one.
…May Our Loving Lord Go With You
And yet, years later, God finally got my attention. I yielded my life to Him, and those “empty promises” suddenly became a little less hollow. God had been wooing me to Him for a long time, I had only just come to recognize what was taking place. I came to discover that God was guiding me in all things, both spiritually and in my daily life, eventually culminating in a call to the ministry – may He go before you to show you the way.
I struggled with the awareness of my own frailty, yet felt Him continuing to urge me on in what was growing into a repentant life – behind you to encourage you.
I also struggled with tragedy and loss, a process I had never experienced in my pre-Christian life, yet I discovered His solace in the midst of this - above you to watch over and care for you.
It was through this that I came to discover the intimacy He offered, and came to fall in love with a God who has long been in love with me – beside you to be your friend.
Ultimately, He became my anchor where, in the midst of all the trials, all the challenges, all the pain, all the tragedy, all the grief, all the struggles which life in a broken world brings, He brings a centering serenity through which I endure – and within you to fill you with His peace, His love, and His uncontainable joy.
This benediction, which I so railed against in my youth, inevitably became my story. I pray that it may be your story as well.
What surprising aspects of your youth ultimately came to be an unexpected part of your story?
Image Credit: Wonder Ferret