Dr. Stanley Spence, Pastor First Baptist Church, Lincolnton, N.C.
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”
Such a simple statement but it carries more impact than you might realize. What does it mean not to want? How can the Lord being your shepherd be the replacement for your wants?
We live in a culture of want. We want good jobs, good health, good families, good children, good days--and most of us have those wants enough to be motivated to action in those matters. We know they do not just happen by themselves. Therefore, what is the nature of this statement of not being in want?
When we place our faith in God, we are by nature different people. With our eyes on God, we are striving for eternal values, of which most human earthly wants are not a part in the eternal future.
You cannot take your earthly possessions with you when you die. You cannot take your position and titles with you when you depart. Although one could argue to the contrary, I do not expect God to call us by earthly titles when resurrected. If our earthly existence is left behind when we leave here then what is it we translate into in the next life?
'I shall not want' becomes a very real experience when we trust in the eternal presence of God as a intimate relationship we share. What more could you want?
However, we are constantly looking at others and what they possess. We see the pleasure and joy others get from this or that. Yes, we should rejoice with those who rejoice and cry with those who cry. Constantly, we are challenged to want what others have in magazine ads, television ads, infomercials (sales pitches), radio ads and more. We are bombarded with messages to compare ourselves with others and see if we can be as happy as they appear to be.
I liken this to a photo where a model, looking flawless, is touched up in the editing room to look flawless and happy. The model is not that perfect and neither is the image of joy and fulfilment. With our eyes on the artificially presented joy we forget that models suffer loss, too; they have relationship failures also; they are limited in finding the meaningful relationships they represent in ads just like the rest of us. All that 'stuff' does not make their lives any more abundant than anyone else’s.
When the Psalmist says he does not want, he is reflecting upon the truth: God is with Him and his joy is complete. He still needs to eat, needs a job, needs a family, and needs love and more. What he is saying is those things pale in significance to the strength of relationship he shares with God. God is greater than all these elements of life. In fact, having God at the center of one’s life helps steer past the unhappiness of life’s wants and wants denied. To lean into God even during the rough times is to know the peace of God that passes all understanding. To fulfill God’s purpose in your life is to find in that accomplishment food enough for joy.
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