I didn’t buy it.
And then one morning. In the dark night of my love story. After doughnuts and bulletin passing and a stream of breathless “Good-morning-welcome-to-Coast-s,” the words transformed, the world shifted. That all-familiar, oft repeated phrase,
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me and I will dwell in the house of the Lord, forever and ever and ever Amen.”
Slowly at first. A question. A nuance. An emphasis. Where before I had only seen goodness and mercy and good outcomes and answered prayers and false hope, I now saw a new word. A new focus. Bold and brazen.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me. Follow me.
The dictionary definition of follow is, as follows:
1. Go or come after (a person or thing proceeding ahead); move or travel behind: “she went back into the house, and Ben followed her.”
2. Go after (someone) in order to observe or monitor.
Surely goodness and mercy will COME AFTER me. Not be given to me. Not be indebted to me. But come after me. In my wake.
Who then is the bringer?
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me.
I am called to be this peddler of good things, this exemplar of righteousness.
Could it be that following Jesus is less about the goodness of life’s outcomes and more about the goodness that we bring, that we carry, that follows us for all to see?
That sounds like a lot of pressure. That sounds like things could get real legalistic real quick.
But it’s not just up to me.
Perhaps as followers of Jesus we are heirs to a journey of growth and refinement that cultivates holy, loving qualities within us. Perhaps the promise is not for happiness and success and a house and a car and 2.5 children, but for fruitfulness.
This can be prosperity, too.
Not the kind of prosperity that aces tests and rains down riches, but the prosperity of a life well valued, a life well lived. A life that where goodness and mercy spring up in its wake.
A prosperity of caring for our brothers and sisters. A prosperity in seeing the gifts this world has to offer. A prosperity in bringing joy and defending the weak.
A prosperity of being followed by goodness and mercy because of a life-giving relationship with the One we follow.
Now that’s a prosperity gospel I can get behind.
*The image at the top of this post is the handiwork of my wonderfully creative brother, Cameron Lewis. Thank you!