REDISCOVERING THE ANCIENT PATH—Week of July 25, 2021
Experience God’s Goodness: Ps. 16
We are in Week 25 of our examination of Benedict Nursia’s rules for Christian formation. This week we’ll look at Rule 4.42: Experience God’s Goodness. Most of us know we serve a good, good Father. We know it. We believe it. We say it. We sing it. But do we experience it? What does it even mean to experience God’s goodness?
Certainly, God’s goodness is a gracious gift. It is not something we earn or deserve. It is the natural outflow of his character and love. In fact, Jesus himself said that God shows goodness to both the just and the unjust (Matt. 5:45). However, there is a difference between being a recipient of God’s goodness and actually experiencing it. Think of it this way: imagine I am in an accident which puts me in a coma. Though I am not conscious of it, my wife comes every day to care for my needs. She bathes me. She combs my hair. She reads to me and shares her heart with me. She fiercely advocates for me and my care, refusing to leave my side. She tenderly kisses my forehead and tells me how much she loves me. I am the beneficiary of her goodness, but am I truly experiencing it? The simple answer is no. For me to truly experience the goodness I am receiving, I must actively and consciously participate in that goodness. The same principle applies to us spiritually in experiencing God’s goodness. Prior to surrendering our lives to God, we are incapable of experiencing God’s goodness. It’s not that we are in a spiritual coma—it’s worse than that. The Bible tells us that we are dead in our trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:4-6). But God is not willing for us to remain that way. If we are willing to surrender our lives to him, he will raise us up again in Jesus Christ so that we can walk in a new life. We are awakened to who God is and all that he has done and is doing for us. We can begin to experience God.
In Psalm 16, David speaks of what it means to actively and consciously experience God’s goodness. Notice the progression in the psalm and the active verbs David uses. First, David chooses to put his trust in God. He recognizes God is the source of everything good in his life. Next, David chooses to delight in God’s people, for fellowshipping with God’s people is a key way to experience God’s goodness. David then actively chooses to worship God alone, refusing to participate in the idolatry of the day. He surveys all the blessings he has experienced and with a thankful heart praises God for his goodness. He meditates on God’s word, using it as the guide for his life. And what is the result of David’s experiencing God’s goodness? He finds joy, peace, and an eternal hope for the future. In the end, isn’t that what we are all seeking?
We all can say that at some point we’ve benefitted from God’s goodness. But God has so much more for us. Jesus said that he came that we might have life and that we might have it more abundantly. I believe part of what Jesus was speaking of was us moving from merely benefitting from God’s goodness to actually experiencing it. God longs for us to awaken from our spiritual stupor and actually participate in all the good things he has in store for us. He longs for us to experience the joyful, peaceful, and hopeful life he planned for us before the foundation of the world.
- Take a moment to assess your life. What are some of the times you’ve benefitted from the goodness of God?
- Now take another moment and reconsider. When, if ever, have you experienced the goodness of God? What was the difference between that time and the times when you merely benefitted from the goodness of God?
- Read Psalm 16. Insert yourself into David’s place and re-write the psalm in your own words based on what you’ve experienced of the goodness of God. How does your psalm differ from David’s? How is it the same?
- Looking at the progression of experiencing God’s goodness outlined above, what action steps could you take to actually move into experiencing God’s goodness?