How much do I lack?

My mind swirls with thoughts about all that I do not have. I am overtaken. The mirror. The scale. The magazines. They all shout about the deficiency of my body. I wish, I wish, I wish I lost weight as easily as I gained it. Or maybe even didn’t gain it at all. Some people are like that, right? Oh, if I could be one of those people, those beautiful people, those skinny people. Life must be so much better for them.

I lack.

My calendar. My routine. My days swirl in circles for want of purpose. I grapple with the emptiness of not having a job. Oh, wouldn’t it be better if I was doing more? If I was contributing. If I was an essential piece someplace. If I could achieve things. If I could have someone telling me I was doing good work.

I lack.

My kids. Oh, my kids. I look at my kids and know I could be doing so much better at this parenting thing. If only I had more creativity. More spontaneity. I dream of being a fun mom. A mom who is more present in the moment. A mom who sets up a tent in the living room and reads to her kids by light of a lantern. Oh, If I could be more like that.

I lack.

And what about my eyelids heavy for lack of sleep? My living room empty for lack of furniture? My phone not ringing for lack of friends?

Life would be better if…. I wish I could have… I am missing…. Feelings of lack consume.

And along comes a Psalm. Arguably the most common and celebrated Psalm in the Bible. I am amazed that a Psalm I have read so many, so many times can still smack hard against me. It convicts and settles and challenges and brings peace.

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. – Psalm 23:1

Nothing.

I lack nothing.

The Lord provides me with everything I need.

He makes me lie down in green pastures. – Psalm 23:2a

Peace. Rest. I lack nothing.

he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. – Psalm 23:2b-3a

Nourishment. Renewing. I lack nothing.

He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. – Psalm 23:3b

Direction. Guidance. I lack nothing.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. –Psalm 23:4

Hope. Comfort. I lack nothing.

 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. – Psalm 23:5a

Nourishment. Security. I lack nothing.

You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. – Psalm 23:5b

Purpose. Blessing. I lack nothing.

Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. – Psalm 23:6

Grace. Love. Devotion. I lack nothing.

Nothing.

This does not mean, practically speaking, that I have everything. I still have wants and needs that have not gone away.

But my soul? It can be satisfied. I lack nothing. My soul can be fulfilled.

I can find rest for aimless wandering and answers for endless wishing in the arms of a God who provides.

The Lord is my Shepherd. I lack nothing.

Walk through the Psalms is a series reflecting on the beautiful and timeless poetry found in the middle of the Bible. It is an intentional study of God’s Word, grounded in the belief that God gave us the Bible so we could meditate on it, whether that takes us through inspiring or frustrating territory.

the deep longing in our hearts

The planning started about one month out. I would ponder and prepare. I would lay different combinations on my bed.

That yellow shirt is cute. Oh, but it would bring out the tawny coloring of my skin. Try again. I like that ruffle blouse. Oh, but I don’t think is fashionable anymore. Try again. I wonder if I have the money to go to the store and buy something new? That black tank looked cool. Except, hmmm… I don’t think I have the body for it. Argghh… Try again.

Picking an outfit for the first day of school was a big deal.

It was the chance to make an impression. To show everyone how much cooler I had gotten in the few months we had been apart from one another. To maybe, just maybe, get noticed.

I wanted so badly to get noticed.

I still do.

What used to translate into obsessing over outfits now turns into monitoring facebook likes and blog comments. Do people care about me? Am I funny enough? Am I pretty enough? Am I good enough?

I want validation. I want to know that I am liked.

There is a deeper longing, too. A desire for community. For friends who ask me how I am doing. For a husband who perceives that I have had a rough day and steps in to help. For people in my life who celebrate and weep with me, because they know the details.

I think this desire is part of being human. We strive for validation. We want to know that someone out there cares. We want to be known.

Jesus says we are known.

I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.” – John 10:14-15

It is a shepherd’s job to notice the sheep. A shepherd spends all day in the fields with them. He watches for any who wander off, so he can bring them back to the flock. He looks for any who might be hurt, so he can care for them. He makes sure his sheep have enough to eat. He looks out for their safety.

That is why shepherds and shepherding is so often used as a visual picture in the Bible. It was a career the Israelites understood, and a living analogy of life with God.

But with this statement, Jesus takes that analogy to a new level. Not only is Jesus a shepherd who notices His sheep, He is a shepherd who knows His sheep. He knows His sheep just as the Father knows Him.

Jesus and the Father are one. They know each other in the most intimate way possible.

Jesus knows not only the version of ourselves that we present to the world, He knows our true selves. Our unspoken desires. Our secret sins. Our deepest needs. Our unmet potential. Jesus knows us. The real us.

And He responds to that knowledge with action. He lays down His life for us sheep. Knowing the good and the bad, the spoken and the unspoken, Jesus dies for us.

We are known and we are loved.

That is what Jesus saying “I am the Good Shepherd” reveals to me. What does it reveal to you?

Read the post before this one, How far would you go for love?

 

Advent Series Day 14: the Shepherd King

I loved playing hide and seek when I was little. Once, when I was playing with my cousins, I was thrilled to find the perfect hiding spot. It was under the dresser in my room. The fact that it was a tight squeeze made the spot even better. No one would suspect that I could fit in the space. So, I got down on my back, then wiggled and wedged my way under. I was laying on my back staring at the wood bottom of the dresser when the person who was “it” came into the room. He looked around, didn’t see me, and left. I was thrilled. Until more time passed. And a second round started. And I still wasn’t found. I started to sweat. Butterflies filled my stomach. I decided to get out and find another spot. Except, I couldn’t move- I was stuck.

Suddenly, it didn’t seem very fun anymore. I wanted to be found. I called out until others came into the room. It took the whole group to free me. My sweater ripped in the process, but I didn’t care. I was just relieved to be rescued.

After all, no one wants to stay lost.

Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? – Luke 15:4

Sheep get lost easily. They wander. It is a shepherd’s job to protect them. To keep sheep from danger and direct them to the right pasture. To find sheep that stray and bring them back to the fold.

David was a shepherd from Bethlehem. Until God sent the prophet Samuel to anoint David as the next King of Israel. In the book of Micah, we find out that David will not be the only Shepherd King to come from Bethlehem.

But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.

He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth. – Micah 5:2,4

David was a shepherd king from Bethlehem who brought security to the people of Israel. The Messiah would be a Shepherd King from Bethlehem who brings security to the ends of earth. A Shepherd King who searches for lost people to bring them into the peace of His fold.

Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod – Matthew 2:1

Jesus is the Messiah, the Shepherd King.

“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. – John 10:14-16

People are like sheep. We are prone to wander. We know the cliff is dangerous, but we can’t resist going over to see what is on the other side. We fall into temptation and away from the ways of God. Jesus is a Good Shepherd who searches for us. And lays down His own life to save us.

Before the Messiah, it was thought that only the people of Israel were a part of God’s fold. But Jesus says He comes to gather sheep not of that pen, so that all will join into one flock, with Him as the Shepherd. His love reaches to the ends of the earth, just as Micah predicted.

All may join the security and peace of God’s fold through faith in Jesus. The Good Shepherd is calling to all people of the earth.

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost. – Luke 19:10