People Who Say Such Things: Lack Nothing

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February 25, 2020

Psalm 23:1-6 (NIV)

1 The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
4 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.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 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.

CONSIDER THIS

Sometimes the poetry gets in the way of the point. 

As I have begun working through this NIV translation of the Psalm I find myself chafing against it a bit. I am so used to the funeral version, which would be the King James Version, and all its finely poetic Elizabethan English. The opening line is grooved in my soul like a well worn path: “The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want.” Hence my opening line, “Sometimes the poetry gets in the way of the point.”

“I lack nothing” says everything about my reality if the Lord is my shepherd. “I shall not want” says something about my behavior if the Lord is my shepherd. See the difference here? The Hebrew text, in my limited understanding of it, seems to favor the more recent NIV translation: “I lack nothing.” To say, “I have a good shepherd, therefore, I lack nothing,” is quite a different thing than to say, “I have a good shepherd, therefore, I should not want anything.” We could spend a week of discipleship right here, but we must press on. In lieu of that, I want to ask you to repeat those eight words out loud (The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing) for the next minute. It will have impact. Do it. Tell Siri to set a timer for one minute and do it. It is for your soul. 

“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.” Now, besides the problem of the glaring comma splice, we are good—on to the text of the day:

2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he refreshes my soul.

There is a great difference between, “The Lord is my shepherd,” and the more common bumper sticker sentiment, “Jesus is my co-pilot.” I am not the pilot of my own ship. Nor am I the co-pilot. I do not need someone to help me when I am in a pinch. I need constant guidance, provision, care, and direction. I am a sheep. Jesus is the shepherd. He knows what I need, and he supplies it. Green pastures for grazing and later for stretching out and resting in when I’m full? Check! Still waters to drink from with their serenity in the midst of anxiety? Check! Those are not goods and services the Shepherd provides. They are the fruit of his presence. They come with the Shepherd.

I still mostly live with a “God help me” mentality. And I need a lot of help. I need help with my kids. I need help with my job. I need help with making ends meet. I need help with my diet and exercise. I need help with my sadness. I need help with my insecurities. You get the point. 

I am growing and want to grow more in a “God have me” mindset. If the Lord is my shepherd, he has me. And I lack nothing. Green pastures? Check! Still waters? Check! I don’t need to worry about all my needs. The LORD is my Shepherd, I lack nothing. I need only learn to live in an abiding relationship with the Shepherd; listening and hearing, watching and waiting, receiving and giving. The LORD is my Shepherd, I lack nothing.

This is not a statement of intention. It is a declaration of faith. It doesn’t say he will help me find green pastures and he will help me locate still waters or he will help me do a better job with my soul care. Help me. Help me. Help me. It’s transactional faith. It’s good faith but it is not goal faith. 

“Have me.” That is transcendent faith. This is the stuff of deep shift we are into now. The shift is from how God helps me to who God is to me. The shift is from God is my co-pilot, on standby to help as needed to: The LORD is my Shepherd, I lack nothing.

People who say such things are making the shift. They increasingly find their soul restored not so much by the green pastures and the still waters but by the presence of God himself. And they are becoming bold, confident, not anxious, and unafraid. 

THE PRAYER

Father, I want to be a person who says such things. I feel like I need so much help and you are so faithful to help me. I want to make the deep shift, from “help me” prayers to a “have me” life. I need you to help me with this. And there I go again. You are my shepherd. I lack nothing. Yes, Lord, with you I lack nothing. Have me. Come Holy Spirit, and train me to be such a person of faith. I pray in Jesus name, Amen. 

THE QUESTION

Are you grasping this challenge to shift from “help me” to “have me” faith? What might this mean for you? 

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt
Sower-in-Chief
seedbed.com

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Farmer. Poet. Theologian. Jurist. Publisher. Seedbed's Sower-in-Chief.

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