Monday, February 27, 2012

I Shall Not Want

A few months ago I was spending considerable time meditating on Psalm 23—a wonderful picture of the kind of person I want to be and the kind of life I want to experience as I trust in the loving, faithful shepherd who provides for me. The phrase I have thought about most is “I shall not want.” Another way to say the same thing is “I have everything I need.” If I believe in God the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and if I believe I belong to him and that he will care for me, then I have everything I need. That is not to say that I have everything I want or that everything that happens to me is good. But because of God, who he is, and my relationship with him, I have everything I need.

I have to be honest. I don’t live that belief all of the time. I’m a glass-half-empty person. While, I am growing in grace, I confess that I am often more aware of what I lack than what I have. I haven’t truly believed nor lived as though “I have everything I need.” Psalm 23 is such a familiar psalm in some ways, but I encourage you to think about it, meditate on it line by line. Perhaps read it in a different translation for a fresh perspective. It is the picture of a sheep at rest because of the relationship to the shepherd. And it is meant to provide a picture of the kind of life we can experience in relationship to our shepherd, our heavenly Father—the maker of heaven and earth.

I too can lie down (rather than standing to eat) and rest or stroll quietly beside streams of water (rather than guzzling to fill myself up). To say that “I have everything I need” means I turn my focus off of myself and turn it to God—who he is, who I am in relationship to him, and what he has done and continues to do for me. He is the one who “restores my soul.”

I like this psalm too because it is not naïve: there is evil and there are enemies in this life. But rather than “fearing evil,” I can choose to trust the one who is “with me.” Again, this doesn’t mean that bad things won’t happen, but we can entrust ourselves to the God who made us, cares for us, and will ultimately bring about his redemptive purposes in our lives and in the world. The verse “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies, you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows” demonstrates that even in the midst of turbulent circumstances, the focus is on God and what God is doing in and through and for us.

This is a psalm of deep confidence in God and his love and care. That confidence is summarized with the words “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.” God’s presence is real. His presence, power, and peace can be experienced right here, right now—whatever we are going through.

God is inviting me to quit focusing on all that needs fixing and to recognize the abundance of grace and goodness in my life right here and now. It is definitely a process, but I am learning, growing in grace, and gaining more confidence in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, who loves and cares for me. During this Lenten season, I am seeking to keep a gratitude journal as I notice and record evidence of God’s love and care. I want to cultivate a deeper confidence in God so that I will truly believe “I have everything I need.” What evidence do you see in your life for the love and care of God for you? How much do you believe that you have “everything you need”? Each day this week, take time to thank God for five blessings of the day and share that gratitude with someone you love.

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