At the moment, my Mom is down in South Carolina for a few weeks visiting my sister, Jenn, and her family. She has a husband, Mark, and twin 17-year old boys, Sam and Joe. But you already know this.
I’m thankful that my Mom lives near me. She and my Dad played a faithful and indispensable role in the rearing of our four children. A couple decades ago, Noel and I made the very intentional decision to raise our children around at least one set of parents. Since Colorado is “where God lives,” and we wanted to be close to God, it was my parents who would have that special honor. Seriously, we tried very hard to make our trips to South Carolina banner days for our family in an attempt to keep them close with Noel’s family too. And if you would ask my kids, their best childhood memories are of going to visit their grandparents and cousins down in South Carolina. But you gotta live somewhere most of the year, and we chose Colorado.
My Mom is visiting my sister for several reasons. First, Jenn and Mark had to make the same decision we did. “Do we raise our kids around my parents or your parents? Or neither?” Mark’s parents live close to them in South Carolina; they got that honor for my sister’s family. And with handi-capped boys (I know, so PI! But I really don’t know what other term to use.), that has come to mean that my parents visiting them is much easier than they visiting my parents. And my Mom, like any grandma, loves to be around her grandkids.
Also, my Dad’s death has created a void of sorts, or an opportunity from another perspective, for my Mom to have more ability to spend large chunks of time there. Jenn and Mark have done an amazing job of caring for her boys who have severe needs, but they deeply appreciate the help my Mom can give, and I know my Mom benefits immensely from being around her grandkids and her oldest daughter (and occasionally her son-in-law, haha!).
As I look at the blessings my Mom enjoy in visiting them, I’m reminded of our Psalm for prayer this week where it says, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life” (Ps.23:6). My Mom’s opportunity to visit Jenn is a gift of God’s goodness and mercy on both of them.
I realize that the life hereafter is more important than this life. David is obviously looking forward to dwelling “in the house of the Lord forever.” But he’s also thankful that goodness and mercy are following him throughout his earthly sojourn.
We all want a good life. We want God to follow us around with his goodness and mercy all of our earthly days. In the midst of fifteen hundred miles of painful distance separating the two, a deceased spouse, a lifetime of caring for handi-capped twin boys and dealing with the worries, concerns, and unanswered questions that parenting them has raised, goodness and mercy are still there, following my Mom and my sister.
These things are on my mind because on Thursdays I pray for my extended family members. I prayed for my Mom and my sister, and my other siblings families, in-laws included, that they would sense the goodness and mercy of God today. I prayed it as well for our church family, that each of you would engage your extended families as appropriate and be the means through which God’s goodness and mercy might follow both them and you around.
There may be a painful distance of a different sort separating you and your extended family: irreconciled conflict, busy-ness, differences of religious conviction, a job change, or just thousands of miles. You may have to look for God’s goodness and mercy in other ways, but it is there. It comes with being a sheep in God’s pasture. It comes with knowing and loving Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd.
When heaven is your ultimate home and you have Jesus for your earthly shepherd, goodness and mercy are following you, all the days of your life. I’m praying that God will give you eyes to see and a heart that would understand just how much he loves you.
I’m praying that you would find that your life really is very, very good.