4 Keys to Finding Enough: Go to the God of Suffiency

God makes us capable of longing so that we come to Him to fill those longings.

Why is contentment so difficult to attain? Why do we always want more? This post is part of a series on finding enough.

When my husband, John, and I were first married, our vehicle was a used Dodge Polara–nicknamed the tuna boat. It was a huge car and not very attractive. But it got us where we needed to go–with the help of my husband’s fix-it skills.

At one point, the Polara needed a new fuel pump. John called the local junkyard and the person on the other end of the line assured John that he had the needed part. So John drove all the way out to the junkyard only to find that, no, there were no fuel pumps for Dodge Polaras. He ended up going to a car parts store much nearer to our apartment in order to find what the necessary piece to fix the car.

The junkyard was not the right place to find what we needed–even though John had been assured that it was.

Life is like that too. We search and search for what will make our hearts happy and our lives fulfilled. Satan whispers in our ear that we will find it in getting a new sweater or a new car or a new husband. Too often we listen to his lies only to find that we have been looking in the wrong place for satisfaction. Even Satan knows that the only place to find enough is in the God of sufficiency. But to keep us from going to the True Source, he keeps misdirecting us.

Jesus tells us the right place to go to find the fulfillment of our needs. He told His disciples:

Don’t be concerned about what to eat and what to drink. Don’t worry about such things. These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world, but your Father already knows your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need.

So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom. Luke 12:29-32

Jesus reminded His followers that they didn’t need to worry about food or clothing because the Father promised to look after their needs. Just as God cared for the grass waving in the fields and birds nesting in the trees, He would provide for them too.

4 Keys to Finding Enough-

Jesus tells all of us: “Look, you don’t have to be like the rest of the world chasing after things in the hope that possessions or positions will fill the emptiness inside. Live in trust that I know what you need. You are a part of my flock, you are following me. But like sheep, you don’t know what you need as well as your Shepherd does. Remember Your Father is a loving parent who takes great happiness in giving you the kingdom.”

God makes us capable of longing so that we come to Him to fill those longings. He makes us yearn for enough so that we learn to trust Him for all that we need and desire. Jesus said, “But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith!” (Luke 12:28). He reproaches our puny faith. But He also invites us to have confidence in the Father who even dresses transitory grass in beautiful colors and feeds tiny, insignificant birds.

God makes us capable of longing so that we come to Him to fill those longings. Click To Tweet

My husband listened to a salesman’s words and went to the wrong place to find what he needed. In the same way, we can listen to Satan’s lies and later find that we have been looking for contentment in the wrong places. Or we can go to the God of sufficiency and trust that whatever He gives us is enough.

Next step: What lies has Satan been telling you lately? Where have you been trying to find enough–only to discover it is the wrong place. Bring all your longings to the God of sufficiency.

4 Keys to Finding Enough: Reject the Myth That More Stuff Equals More Happiness

too often we believeamore stuff = more happiness

Why is contentment so difficult to attain? Why do we always want more? This post is part of a series on finding enough.

A while ago a local charity called and asked if I had any clothing or small household goods that I would like to donate.

Of course, I did.

In fact, I had just finished reorganizing my bookshelves, closets, and cabinets. On the day of the charity pickup, I set out four large boxes of books, two boxes of CDs and records (yes, I still had some old school technology), and five garbage bags of out-of-date clothes and no-longer-loved home accent pieces.

I was so happy to send these things to a new home, but there was one depressing thing about the process: Even after getting rid of all that stuff, my house did not look much different. My closet was still full. My bookshelves still held hundreds of books.

I still had a lot of stuff.

I am not the only one whose house is full of clothes, dishes, games, DVDs, books, and the occasional Nordic Track clothes rack. Judging by the more than 1700 books listed on Amazon on the subject of organizing clutter, there are a few other people who have trouble corralling their belongings. One might even make the case that Americans are addicted to stuff.

So why do we continue to accumulate things? Why do we feel the need to own more and more?

Because society and our human nature tell us this equation is true:

More Stuff = More Happiness.

Using that equation, our minds compute a subset of calculations: A new boat means fun outings on the lake. Money in the bank equals financial security. A big-screen TV means hours of enjoyable entertainment.

And if we buy more and save more and make more and still aren’t happy, we don’t question the equation. Instead, we assume we don’t have enough stuff. We believe that when we add to the amount on the left side of the equation, the right side will also increase.

Copy of 4 Keys to Finding Enough-

Because of this we never seem to have enough. Many studies have been done on how much money it takes to make someone feel wealthy and the results have been surprisingly consistent. Almost everyone feels that they would have enough if they had just twice what they have now. The worker making $40,000 would feel rich if he made $80,000. The person with two million dollars in the bank would feel he had enough if he had four million.

We think more will make us happier. And so, we never have enough.

But let’s reject that equation. Because it isn’t true.

Sure, getting the new handbag you’ve been saving for may bring a thrill at first. But it is sure to get scuffed or dirty. Or you see your friend’s new bag and wish you had seen that one first. Suddenly, what you have does not bring happiness.

The author of Hebrews wrote:

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

We could also say, “Keep your life free from the love of handbags, shoes, home decor, or whatever else you are basing your happiness on. Be content with what you have. Getting more does not guarantee happiness. But God’s presence and joy is a sure thing.”

Getting more does not guarantee happiness. But God's presence and joy is a sure thing. Click To Tweet

Next step: When you find yourself falling for the lie that more stuff equals more happiness, recognize it for the myth that it is. Rest in God’s presence. Ask Him for contentment for what you have.

 

4 Keys to Finding Enough: Watch Out for Satan’s Lies

Satan works overtime to spoil our appetites and too often we fall for his lies.

Why is contentment so difficult to attain? Why do we always want more? This post is part of a series on finding enough.

When I was a kid, my dad had a habit of pushing back from the table after a delicious and enormous feast and saying, “I spoiled my appetite.”

Of course, he spoiled his appetite. He had eaten two servings of roast beef, a generous mound of mashed potatoes, fresh green beans, and two pieces of apple pie. He was no longer hungry.

My siblings and I laughed at my father’s joke every time.

But a spoiled appetite isn’t always so funny.

Satan works overtime to spoil our appetites and too often we fall for his lies.

It all started back in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve had everything they could want: delicious food, rewarding work without any of the problems, weather so delightful that clothes were unnecessary. They didn’t need anything. And yet, Satan knew how to tempt them—to make them think they didn’t have enough.

God had given Adam and Eve permission to eat from any tree in the garden—except one. He told them that if they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they would die (Genesis 2:16-17). Satan, however, tried to convince them otherwise. He said, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:4-5).  He insinuated that God was holding out on them. He tempted the first couple to want more—to be like God. Suddenly all the Creator had given was not sufficient.

4 Keys to Finding Enough-Satans Lies

Satan continues to tempt us with the idea of more. He tells us that God is withholding His best from us. He whispers that what we currently have couldn’t possibly be enough.

To combat Satan’s lies, we need to arm ourselves with God’s truth. His Word tells us:

And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19

Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? Matthew 6:26

He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Romans 8:32

Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. Matthew 6:31-32

God promises to meet our needs. We may not always have everything we want and sometimes we may not get everything we need as quickly as we like, but God daily cares for us. He wants us to trust Him.

To combat Satan's lies, we need to arm ourselves with God's truth. Click To Tweet

So when you are struggling with contentment, recognize Satan’s lies. He trying to spoil your appetite for God. He wants you to think God is holding out on you.

Instead, rest in the fact that God cares for you and promises to care for you.Trust Him for all your needs. Let Him be your enough.

Next step: Think about what lies Satan may be trying to get you to believe. Print out the Scriptures on God’s provision and post them where you can review them when Satan tries to whisper in your ear.

 

 

4 Keys to Finding Enough: Recognize Your Broken Wanter

Could it be that the amassing of things is stuffing our closets but emptying our souls-

Why is contentment so difficult to attain? Why do we always want more? This post is part of a series on finding enough.

When my husband and I were first married, we moved all of our belongings into our first apartment by loading used furniture onto a borrowed snowmobile trailer. (Can you tell I’m from Wisconsin?) The next time we moved we needed a small U-Haul truck and the next time a bigger truck. Each time we moved we had acquired more things and needed a bigger truck to cart those belongings to a new home.

I don’t think we are the only ones. Our society excels in collecting things. We fill closets with clothes, shoes, and accessories. We stuff garages with cars, bikes, and tools. We pile up dinnerware in our cupboards and mementos in our basements. And if all those places get too full, we can drive down the street and rent a storage space. There is always room for more.

Except, do we really need more? Could it be that the accumulation of more is filling our homes but draining our energy? That the amassing of things is stuffing our closets but emptying our souls? Perhaps the popularity of stories about the Amish way of life and blogs about minimalism demonstrate that we’re sick of excess. We long for simplicity and yet we struggle with the question, “What is enough?”

Could it be that the amassing of things is stuffing our closets but emptying our souls? Click To Tweet

Part of the problem is that ever since Adam and Eve gave into an appetite for forbidden fruit and a thirst to be like God, we have been stuck with broken wanters. A wanter that can make me crave a slice of decadent chocolate cheesecake even after I’ve had soup, salad, and an enormous platter of chicken marsala. A wanter that can make me long for those adorable red pumps in the shoe store window even though I have twenty-five pairs of shoes in the closet. Our broken wanters prevent us from attaining enough.

In fact, our wanters are so broken, that we sometimes we have difficulty in discerning our true desires. Damaged wanters are so prevalent that a new profession has sprung up. For only $300 an hour you can hire a wantologist—someone who will help you distinguish what you really want from what you only think you want. For instance, you might go to a wantology session with a wish for a promotion at work and leave with the realization that what you really want is to quit your job. Because of our broken wanters, we don’t know what will actually satisfy our souls. So, we continually search for the next bauble, the next promotion, the next relationship that we are sure will bring happiness.

4 Keys to Finding Enough-Broken Wanter

Scripture tells us about our broken wanters:

Put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires. Ephesians 4:22

Our old sinful natures are twisted and tainted by deceitful desires. Desires for things that we think will make us happy, but fail us every time. We fall for Satan’s lies that this item, this relationship, this money will satisfy.

Thankfully, we don’t have to be stuck with broken wanters. Psalm 37:4 tells us:

Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

When the Holy Spirit works faith in our hearts and we are able to find joy in the almighty Lord, He gives us desires of the heart. Desires for things that will truly satisfy our souls. Instead of seeking the next bauble or the next promotion we long for God’s peace, God’s love, God’s grace which are always free.

On our own, we are incapable of achieving enough. But one of the ways we can find contentment is to recognize our broken wanters and ask the Lord to give us authentic desires.

Next step: Make a list of things you currently long for. How many of these things are guaranteed to satisfy your soul? Ask God to give you desires for things that will truly satisfy your soul.

 

 

When You Feel Defeated

CUBS WIN! CUBS WIN! CUBS WIN!

My son texted me with these words when our home team, the loveable-loser Cubs got into the World Series. Truthfully, I was stunned. And even more amazed at what happened in the next week and a half.

On Sunday when the Cubs were down three games to one–I’ll admit, I thought this was the end of their remarkable season. A victory seemed too unlikely. Once again the team would go home as the loveable losers.

But then they won and won again and won again! After 108 years, the Chicago Cubs were once more the best in baseball.

If you don’t live in Chicago or don’t care much for baseball–this victory probably doesn’t matter to you.

But the whole scenario reminds me of another unlikely victory.

Ever since Adam and Eve bit into that apple, the human race was on a losing team. We lost our righteousness, our health, our very lives. Sin and pain and death entered into the world. We were forever lost.

But then a new player joined the team. A man, to be sure, but also God. Jesus came to bat for us–to do what we couldn’t do.

He lived the perfect life we were unable to manage. He took our sin and our punishment. On Good Friday, it looked like defeat. Everyone thought the worst. But three days later, Jesus rose again–the ultimate unlikely victory!

Now Jesus says to us,

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage, I have overcome the world. John 16:33

Perhaps today you feel like you are losing. You are down three games to one and victory seems impossible. You’re beaten down by pain. Or by financial hardship. Or by disappointment and discouragement. That’s when you need to remember Jesus’ unlikely victory on your behalf.

In Jesus, we will overcome. It may not look exactly like the victory you envisioned. Perhaps you will have to battle through many more games to get victory. But in Jesus it is possible. He promises, “I have overcome the world. Anything that seems too hard for you, I can conquer. Trust me. Even when all seems lost. Trust me.”

Next step: What victory are you waiting for? Write out a prayer, thanking Jesus for the triumph that He will bring–in this world or the next.

when-you-feel-defeated

Three Things I Wish I’d Known When I Was Waiting

WaitingLingerInHisPresence

Are you sitting in one of life’s waiting rooms?

Waiting for Mr. Right? For a child? For a new job?

I’ve been there too. And I have to admit, I didn’t wait well.

I complained. I griped. I made sure God knew that I didn’t like the way things were going.

But I’ve been learning a bit about waiting lately. And what I’ve discovered is that although we may hate waiting–God can use the pause in our plans for our good.

This past week I read Psalm 130. I love these verses:

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
    and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
    more than watchmen for the morning,
    more than watchmen for the morning. (verses 5-6)

To dig into this passage a little deeper, I looked up the word wait in the Hebrew dictionary. The word translated “wait” in the ESV is from the Hebrew word qavah. This Hebrew word has several meanings–and teaches three things about waiting that I wish I had known when I was in experiencing a serious delay in my plans.

Three Lessons About Waiting from the Hebrew Word Qavah

3ThingsWaitingTo wait is to look eagerly for. The first meaning for qavah emphasizes how we are to wait–with eagerness and certainty. In verse 6 of Psalm 130 the psalmist compares the waiting of his soul to the waiting of the night watchman. The gloom of the night may seem long to the watchman, but he is sure of one thing–morning will come. While he is watching, he is certain there is an end to the wait.

Though our lives may seem terribly black at times, we can also be sure that God is always there for us. He is always working things out for our good. We can eagerly look for His solution to our problems.

To wait is to linger. The second meaning stresses a positive side of waiting. Usually waiting has a negative connotation. We hate waiting at the checkout line. Or for our food at Olive Garden. Or for someone to answer the phone after we’ve been on hold for 20 minutes!

But to linger is a contented way to wait. We linger over the last few drops of coffee with a friend–waiting just a few more minutes before we have to part. We linger in the sunshine at the beach–waiting a moment longer before going back to the noise of the world.

God invites us to view a season of waiting as a time to linger in His presence. Time to hang out with Him a few more hours. Time to linger in His love and peace.

God invites us to view a season of waiting as a time to linger in His presence. Click To Tweet

To wait is to collect or bind together. The third definition of the Hebrew word is a meaning we don’t have for our English word wait. Qavah can mean “to bind together.”  Waiting is hard. But it can be a time to grow closer to God–a time to connect with Him like never before. Think about it. When do you feel closest to God? When all your plans are moving along smoothly? Or when you are desperately wanting God to answer your prayers?

I have to admit–I spend a lot more time on my knees when life throws me a crisis and God isn’t fixing it as quickly as I would like. As I wait, God often reveals Himself to me in a way I haven’t experienced before. He shows me deep truths in His Word. He demonstrates His unfailing love in unexpected ways.

Are you experiencing a serious pause in your plans? Grab onto these three lessons while you’re waiting.

Look eagerly for God in your situation–expect Him to come through.

Linger in His presence.

Use the time of delay to grow closer to God.

Next step: Write out Psalm 130:5-6 on a note card or sticky note. Add the definition of qavah that speaks to you today. Post the note where you will see it often this week.

The Key to Unlock the Chains of “Doing”

being a doer can in the way of

“What did you do today?”

It’s an innocent question. One I usually like to answer. One I often use to get a conversation going.

It’s even a question I often ask myself.

I’m a doer. You too? We doers like to accomplish things. We make massive to-do lists and find glee in placing little check marks next to completed jobs. (Sometimes we even write down tasks we’ve finished that weren’t on the list just so we can make that satisfying check mark.)

But this week while I was reading and meditating on the psalms, God spoke to me about all my “doing.”

The Key to Unlock the Chains of -Doing-I was reading Psalm 118:5:

In my anguish I cried to the Lord, and he answered by setting me free.

And the Holy Spirit highlighted the phrase “setting me free.” The phrase unsettled my soul. But I couldn’t figure out why.

The phrase conjured up images of chains falling off swollen wrists. Of bursting out of a dark dungeon into blinding sunshine. Of running through a swaying field of flowers.

I asked God why my heart needed to hear that particular phrase.

And the answer was that I have been bound to the chains of “doing.” Being a doer is not a bad thing. But it can get in the way of being a child of God if I am basing my value on my accomplishments. If I’m focusing on what I can do. If I view myself as worthless when my efforts don’t get the results I would like.

In that simple little phrase, “setting me free,” the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart: What if instead of focusing on what you have done, instead of staring at what you haven’t done (ahem where I’ve failed), you began to concentrate on what God has done?

Later in Psalm 118 there is another phrase that grabbed my heart: “proclaim what the Lord has done” (verse 17).

In fact, Psalm 118 is full of things the Lord has done: He has

  • loved me forever (verse 1)
  • set me free (verse 5)
  • helped me (verse 7)
  • protected me (verse 8)
  • done mighty things (verse 16)

And when I look back on the past few weeks of my life, I see that He has:

  • given my husband a good health report–no cancer!
  • helped me recover from a bad cold
  • given me time with my daughter and her family
  • granted me a new book contract

When I focus on “what the Lord has done” the chains of doing and the pressure of accomplishing fall away. 

I am set free.

Next step: What has the Lord done for you this week? Make a list. And as you focus on what God has done, feel the pressure of accomplishment fall away. 

 

4 Steps to Take When You’re Discouraged

WHEN I'M IN THE DESERT OF DISAPPOINTMENTI NEED TO REMEMBERONLY GOD CAN QUENCH MY THRIST

Years ago a friend came to our house broken and discouraged. His heart was more than bruised. It had been stomped on, kicked in, and used as a punching bag.

His wife had just asked for a divorce.

My husband is a pastor and this man was not only a friend, but a member of our congregation. He came to my husband for counseling. For support.

That first night all we did was hug him. Cry with him.Sit in shock with him.

He came often to talk with my husband, but one day he arrived when my husband wasn’t home yet. This twenty-something man shuffled in like a person sixty years older. Shoulders slumped, he made his way to the sofa, but didn’t even make it to the seat. Instead he slid down to the floor in a ball of tears and desperation.

My kids were running around the house and I wasn’t sure what to do. So I just slumped down on the floor, leaning against a nearby chair, and sat with him.

As his sadness permeated the room and my own soul, I remembered Psalm 42–the place I always go when my heart is shattered. While we sat on the floor I shared how this psalm encourages me when I’m in a pit of discouragement.

Acknowledge the Feelings

King David must have been in a broken state when he wrote the words:

Why am I discouraged?
    Why is my heart so sad? (Psalm 42:5a)

I love how David talks to his soul. He takes the first step and acknowledges the sadness, the depression, the emptiness.

The first step I take is to recognize all the pain in my heart. I name the emotions no matter how ugly. 

4 STEPS-DISCOURAGEDLook Toward God

But David doesn’t let his heart stay in that desperate place. He immediately encourages his soul:

I will put my hope in God!
    I will praise him again—
    my Savior and  my God! (Psalm 42:5b)

The second step to take when I’m heartbroken and discouraged is to stop looking at the problem and remind my heart to look toward God. 

After I acknowledge my discouragement I need to turn to the Source of hope.

Remember God’s Help in the Past

Next I need to remember how God has brought me through all my other deep and desperate places. David wrote:

 Now I am deeply discouraged,
    but I will remember you—
even from distant Mount Hermon, the source of the Jordan,
    from the land of Mount Mizar. (Psalm 42:6)

I need to recall how the Lord has guided me through my valleys and back to the mountaintop. He has brought me through sadness and depression before. He will do it again.

Turn Times of Discouragement Into Times of Intimacy with God.

Finally, I need to realize that times of discouragement can be a time of intimacy with God. 

David wrote:

As the deer longs for streams of water,
    song for you, O God. Psalm 42:1

When the world stomps on my heart there is Someone who can mend it. and satisfy my soul. When I face deserts of disappointment, I need to realize that God is the only One who can truly quench my thirst and satisfy my soul.

When I face deserts of disappointment, I realize God is the only One who can truly quench my thirst. Click To Tweet

I’m not sure my words of encouragement helped my friend going through a divorce more than just sitting with him.

But Psalm 42 is the place I go when discouragement and disappointment visit my life.


Psalm 42 is the first psalm in Book II which includes Psalms 42-75. This book of psalms is sometimes called the “Elohim Psalter Part 1” because Elohim is the name for God used most often. Elohim is the Hebrew name for God that is used in the very first sentence of the Bible. So the name Elohim reminds us that He is the Creator, the One who began it all. Many of the psalms in Book II are written by David, but some are written by the sons of Korah– Levites that David put in charge of music at the tabernacle.


 

Next step: Are you brokenhearted or discouraged? Which of the four steps do you need to take today? Acknowledging your feeling? Looking away from the problem and toward God? Remember God’s help in the past? Realizing this time of disappointment may lead to greater intimacy with God? Journal your response.

Directions to the Perfect Way

 

God'sDirections

When my husband is driving, I sometimes  often need to resist the urge to give directions. You see, I want to say things like:

You’ll want to turn left here.

It’s better if you avoid that road.

You’re going that way?

And it’s all because I think my way is better.

Now, over the years my tendency to be a back-seat driver has slightly diminished because I have realized something:

My husband knows the way.

I have often struggled with being a backseat driver in my life as well. I know God is supposed to be the One steering me through the course of life, but I want to be the one in charge. 

As I have been reading through the psalms, God continually reminds me that He knows the way. The best way.

Psalm 18 says:

As for God, his way is perfect:
    The Lord’s word is flawless;
    he shields all who take refuge in him. (Psalm 18:30)

PerfectWayDavid tells me that God’s way is perfect. The Hebrew word for way is derek which means road, journey, path, or course of life. And the word perfect in Hebrew means complete and whole. It is used often in the Old Testament to describe the animals that were to be brought for sacrifice in the temple–without blemish.

God’s path or road through life is complete.

It isn’t deficient or lacking.

It is not defective or flawed.

Although the world continually tries to get me to follow current trends and popular advice, it usually doesn’t take me long to discover those ways are inadequate.

Only God’s way is perfect. In other words, if I follow God’s directions, I will always be on the right road.

David takes this idea of God’s perfect path a step further in verse 32:

It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. (Psalm 18:32)

This makes things a little more personal. It might be fairly easy for me to agree with the fact that God’s way is perfect–for other people.

But to believe that God makes my way perfect means I have to stop giving the directions and be willing to take them. It means I have to admit:

My way is flawed

My way is deficient

My way is not perfect.

Not very easy for this recovering control freak.

But God invites me to take His hand while He guides me on the path He has designed and trust that it truly is perfect for me.

God invites me to take His hand and trust that the path He has designed is truly perfect for me. Click To Tweet

In His love, the Father has laid out a road that brings me closer to Him.

In His wisdom He has found the best lane to travel in.

In His power He enables me to follow the route He has planned.


Background information: Psalm 18 is a personal psalm of praise. It was written by David, a “servant of the Lord.” David instructed the choirmaster to use this song to the Lord on the day when the Lord rescued him form the hand of his enemies–especially Saul. If you would like to join me in reading through the psalms during this Lenten season, download this free reading guide.


Next step: Pray with me, “Lord, forgive me when I have doubted that Your way is perfect. When I have insisted on a path of my own choosing, no matter how flawed or incomplete it was. Help me to wholeheartedly believe that You are guiding me on the best possible path to a fulfilling life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

The Mystery of Psalm 23

JesusShepherd

During the 40 days of Lent I am reading through the Psalms. Why don’t you join me? Click here to download the Lenten reading guide. 

When I was a little girl I loved hearing Psalm 23 read in church. It was easy to picture Jesus as a shepherd because in the sanctuary there was a huge stained glass window of Jesus holding a staff in one hand and a snow-white lamb in the other.

However, there was one thing about that psalm that always puzzled me. When the pastor read, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want,” it sounded like the guy who wrote the psalm didn’t want Jesus to be his shepherd.

And that just didn’t make any sense.

Finally, one Sunday I asked my mother to explain that verse. She told me that the writer was trying to say that because Jesus was his shepherd he didn’t want anything else.

Well, that made a little more sense, but how could that be?

I mean, how could you not want chocolate ice-cream cones? Or Barbie dolls? Or sleepover parties?

Even now–all grown up–I want Jesus to be my Shepherd. But sometimes it’s hard not to want other things. Like family to be close. Like friends who don’t move away. Like health for my loved ones.

mysteryPsalm23But maybe having Jesus as my Shepherd, doesn’t necessarily mean automatic contentment here on earth.

Look at the way the NIV (1984) translates that verse:

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.” Psalm 23:1

This take on the verse assures me that Jesus my Shepherd will give me what I need. I won’t be in a state of want. I might not have everything I desire, but I will have everything I need.

The rest of Psalm 23 tells us everything that God provides:

  • food and water (v. 2)
  • rest (v. 2)
  • restoration (v.3)
  • guidance (v. 3)
  • protection (v. 4)
  • His presence (v. 4)
  • goodness and love (v. 6)
  • eternal life (v. 6)

What do you most need today? Where does it fit in the list above? Look up that verse now.

Maybe you no longer yearn for Barbie dolls or sleepovers. But life is hard and we often have unfulfilled longings.

Take all your desires to the Shepherd. Trust that He will carry you in His arms today and give you exactly what you need.


 

Background information for Psalm 23: Psalm 23 is in the first book of Psalms (which includes Psalms 1-41). The psalm is a psalm of trust. It was written by David who grew up tending sheep. He knew firsthand the duties and responsibilities of a shepherd. Read the psalm here.


 

Next step: Write down your greatest need (or desire). Look up the corresponding verse in Psalm 23. Write it on a card to carry with you today or on sticky note to post it where you can see it often. Picture yourself being carried like a lamb in the arms of Jesus.