Anyone who's ever had a new puppy knows that sound of tiny paw pads following around behind you everywhere you go. You learn to instinctinctively look all around at your feet before taking a step, lest you trample the poor pup underfoot. Little puppies faithfulfully, playfully, and expectantly follow their humans around everywhere they go.
This image of the playful puppy serves as the perfect illustration of the promise of the Psalmist, "Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life ..."
Or does it?!
As one Bible student, Elizabeth Petrone Wheeler, has so aptly expressed:
What an inappropriate translation for Psalm 23! The [Hebrew] word for 'follow' is the same word used [concerning] Pharaoh's actions ... after he had let the Israelites leave. Did Pharaoh 'follow' them? No, he pursued them; he wanted them back! The same word is used when Saul was looking for David. Was Saul 'following' David? No, he hunted him down! This word is used many times when a person or group is chasing after another, even for revenge or destruction, and it is never translated as 'follow' except in Psalm 23.
Perhaps the translators were trying to soften or cast new light on the meaning of a word so typically used in a negative context. Or perhaps they just don't appreciate the full force of the word. The Hebrew word translated 'follow' here in Psalm 23:6 literally means to persue or chase. See Strong's rendering, 7291.
Make no mistake: the goodness of God is not following you like a puppy waiting to be noticed, it is pursuing you, chasing you down, hunting you, urging you to notice it. The passion with which a man will hunt his enemy, the seething desire one has to see his foe destroyed is the same zeal, vigor and perseverance God uses to love, care for, and bless us.
Turn around and acknowledge the one who has chased you for so long, and thank Him for His relentless pursuit and excessive devotion that allows your cup to be overflowing!
Tracy Howell of Leonard, Texas, has found a unique way of showing her husband both her love and her fellowship in his daily life. On December 1, 2020 she shared the following in a Facebook post which has since racked up hundreds of thousands of shares:
"Clifford and I have been married almost 41 years and I have made his lunch every working day since day 1. On occasion I would join him on the job site and have lunch with him. He made the comment once that lunch tasted better when you share it with someone you love ❤️. Soon after that, while fixing his sandwich one night, I took a bite out of it before putting it away. When he got home (long before cell phones) he commented that someone took a bite out of his sandwich. I told him that since I couldn’t join him for lunch, I took a bite so he knew I was joining him. I continue to do this frequently (unless it’s tuna or pimento cheese) and he still says, 'saw you joined me for lunch today and it sure was good."
Tracy wanted her husband to know that she isn’t just thinking about him, she’s actually “joining” him in his daily experiences. She’s “with” him. She’s “taking a bite” out of whatever struggles or hardships he encounters. She’s “sharing a meal” to fellowship with him over his victories and triumphs. In this simple gesture, she is communicating to him that they truly are in this thing together. It's fellowship on the deepest level.
What a picture of the love, commitment, and fellowship of the Savior for us, His children.
Jesus left the glories of Heaven and condescended to become one of us so that He could truly enter into our daily experiences.
He isn’t just watching over us; He is “with us” in all things!
In taking on humanity, He identifies with us in all our experiences, our joys and sorrows, blessings and burdens, struggles and temptations. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin” (Hebrews 4:15, NIV).
In taking on our yoke of burden, He is “taking a bite” out of our hardships. “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30, NIV).
In securing our salvation He offers to enter in and “sup” with us. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20, ESV).
In keeping with Tracy’s husband’s sentiments, life tastes so much better when you share it with someone who loves you. It’s fellowship on the deepest of all levels!
One of the most pervasive misperceptions about Heaven is that it is a purely ethereal, non-physical place—a place where disembodied spirits float around in an immaterial dimension, presumably playing harps! Some don’t even consider it a place at all, but have reduced it to a state of mind!
But this is not the Heaven described in the Bible.
Perhaps the strongest argument for a physical dimension to Heaven is the fact that Jesus is there right now, physically, in His resurrected body. And it’s not just Jesus who took a body with him into Heaven; the Bible tells us that Enoch and Elijah were also transported there in their physical bodies (Hebrews 11:5; 2 Kings 2:11).
So the Bible makes it clear that there are at least three people presently in Heaven who have a human, physical form. This strongly suggests that there must be a dimension to Heaven that makes accommodation for embodied people—that it’s not just an ethereal, non-physical place.
Adding a bit more food for thought is the fact that the Bible describes the Tree of Life (pun intended), first mentioned as being physically present in the earthly Garden of Eden, as now physically existing and producing fruit in Heaven.
Reason also supports the idea of a physical dimension to Heaven. Consider the following illustration:
Let’s say you’ve been invited to have dinner at the mansion of a friend who happens to be incredibly wealthy, with maids and butlers and cooks available at his beckoned call.
On the night of the engagement, as you’re in route, your car suddenly starts to sputter and then comes to an abrupt halt, stranding you nearly a mile from your destination. So you decide to walk the rest of the way.
With just a couple of blocks to go you hear a loud thunder clap, and the next thing you know you’re overtaken by high winds and driving rain.
As you bolt to get out of the torrential downpour, you stumble and take a hard spill on the sidewalk, badly scraping your knee. Moments later you arrive, soaked through to the bone and bleeding. Your host, happy to see you, quickly ushers you in from the storm.
But then your friend does the most bizarre thing. Actually, it’s what he doesn’t do that’s so surprising. Although he sees your terrible condition, and hears your shoes squishing and squeaking as you pass through the foyer, he makes no effort to respond to your obvious needs. No towel with which to dry off is offered, no clothes to replace the ones that are torn and wet, and no bandage is forthcoming for your injured knee. Instead, he invites you directly to the dining room where you spend the rest of the evening in his lovely home over a sumptuous meal, all the while dripping, shivering, and bleeding.
Here’s the point: The expectation most people have of Heaven bears an important similarity to the way the guest was treated by his thoughtless host. For although we anticipate God ushering us into the most amazing accommodations imaginable, most of us don’t expect that He will pay much attention to our physical condition. After all, it won’t just be warm clothing or a bandage for a scraped knee that we’ll be lacking, but our very bodies!
Think about how utterly absurd it would be to finally stand in the presence of the One Who loves you more than any other, of the One Who promises you a perfect Heaven, and to lack anything, let alone your entire body! Such an idea is not only an insult to God, it demeans Heaven itself—as though Heaven would offer us anything less than what we enjoyed on earth.
The possession of a physical body is a critical component of being human. The notion that we would exist in an incomplete state while in the presence of God makes God less, it makes Heaven less, and it makes us less.
Does this make sense to you? I hope so. But I must also humbly admit that just because something makes sense to me doesn’t mean that it is necessarily true. As the Bible reminds us, "’For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the LORD” (Isaiah 55:8). That being so, we turn to the Scripture for a final word.
There are actually many passages that assert that there are physical dimensions to Heaven, but none address the issue of our need for a physical body as directly as 2 Corinthians 5:1-5 (NLT), which reads, “For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies. While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life. God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee, he has given us his Holy Spirit.”
Here we have a decisive statement by an Apostle who not only visited Heaven, he came back to tell us “we will not be spirits without bodies.” So, according to these verses, there aren’t just three people with physical bodies in Heaven—rather, every person in Heaven will be made whole and complete