"Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life." (Psalm 23:6)
In this one phrase is a glimpse of who God is and what God does. These words penned by David could easily have been written by Adam, Eve, Jonah, Peter, Paul, you, or me. They are words that can be spoken by all of God's saints. God is always seeking, searching, and following sinners with His goodness and love. God is seeking a world of lost sinners through Christ.
Luke recounts to us a series of parables that Jesus told of lostness. In Luke fifteen, we find the parable of the lost sheep, and the lost coin. Although what has been lost is very different, there is still a common thread that runs through these parables. The lost are not looking to be found. The actions always lie with the seeker; the shepherd is looking for his lost sheep, and the woman searching for her lost coin. The author, Robert Farrar Capon, describes the parables in this way, "The entire cause of the recovery operation in both stories is the shepherd's, or the woman's, determination to find the lost. Neither the lost sheep nor the lost coin does a blessed thing except hang around in its lostness. On the strength of this parable, therefore, it is precisely our sins, and not our goodnesses, that most commend us to the grace of God."
When we run deep into the darkness, Jesus runs deeper and deeper after us. Where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more. (Romans 5:20) Goodness and love do not follow us because of our obedience; they follow us despite our disobedience.
Jesus will leave the ninety-nine for the one missing sheep. He will search out the lost until they are found. Author Francis Spufford writes, "Lost people arouse his particular tenderness…each person in front of him is, for that moment, the one missing sheep. And he is never disgusted. He never says anything—anyone—is too dirty to be touched." When I read the Gospels, when I read the Bible, it is always the lost, the outcast, the weak, and the sinner that Jesus seems to be attracted to and pursues. God's goodness and love are always on the hunt for those who are least deserving of it.
Jesus goes to great lengths to bring us back. He will stop at nothing to have us back. Jesus will leave heaven for the sake of the sinner. He is willing to be forsaken by His Father, take our sins upon himself, claiming them as His own, taking our place, and dying so that He may run to us and carry us home. When we run from God, He runs to us. Mankind originally ran away from God at a tree. God runs to us with another tree, the tree of the cross. We have a God who runs to us, not away from us. Our God runs straight into death for us.
He runs to us because in our sin, we have run and tried to hide from Him. When our conscience is troubled by the Law, and we run from God, Christ runs after us with His gospel of forgiveness. Jesus doesn't abandon us in our sin; He draws closer. When I wander, love runs after me time and time again to bring me back. My shepherd knows my name. He knows my fear, my failure, my sin, and my doubt. He comes to me when I've tried to hide myself from Him so that He may hide me in Himself.
God's goodness and love go looking for sinners. Love went looking for sinners who had eaten from the tree which God had forbidden. Love followed Adam and Eve to their hiding spot to deliver a promise. God seeks out those who have run from Him and have helplessly tried to hide themselves and their shame. He runs to the prodigal who thinks it's far too late and beyond hope—each one is His dear child. Jesus searches out the lost until they are found, and He is overjoyed to have us in His care.
Blessed are the lost. Blessed are the ones far from home that the Good Shepherd runs after. Blessed are the lost who are now found in Christ. The lost are blessed because of God's goodness and love that stands apart from their worthiness. God's goodness and love has been and always will be following you and me. As far as we may run, God's grace always will run farther. We have been found, and we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.