I shall not want. Psalm 23:1b
The Christian life is a steep climb. Every plateau is a new level of understanding. The once simple, sing-song recitations of scripture and cliches take on new dimensions that are both stunning and staggering. Such is the case with ‘I shall not want.’
I’m doing what I love to do about more than anything right at this minute. It’s 2:00 a.m. The remnant of Hurricane Sally is roaring through Georgia. I’m sitting on my porch, the wind is kicking up, the low Corinthian bells are ringing outside my window, and I am talking to Jesus at length. “Come sit with me and let’s listen to the rain,” I say. “Teach me something.” These mid-night rendezvous’ are precious to me. And then the thoughts start coming. I’m instantly taken to the next part of Psalm 23.
How many times have I had false expectations of God because of this verse! I’ve surmised that the ‘fix it’ God has promised that whatever I think I need, He’ll provide. I’ll never be hungry, penniless, jobless. I shall not want because God promised, right?
I consider the admissions of my spiritual forefathers.
We are pressed on every side… 2 Corinthians 4:8
For your sake, we are being killed all day long…Romans 8:36
All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution…2 Timothy 3:11
Persecuted I shall be as well. Yet, I shall not want. I’ll be hungry at some point. Yet, I shall not want. Strung out and under pressure? Oh yes. Yet, I shall not want.
What is it that is promised here if not a fix to my circumstances? I must go back to the phrase before this. The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
I will not want for a shepherd.
He is a constant companion who dispenses inordinate amounts of grace according to my need. I may walk with a ‘thorn in the flesh’ but ‘I will not want’ for the grace to bear it. I enjoy the faithfulness of a Savior who does not forsake me no matter what I suffer. He does not leave me wanting, ever, for a friendship that is as intimate as I need it to be. The capacity of its depths is up to me, not Him. He’s already given His whole heart (and inheritance) but it’s me who must keep opening doors to trust and abide.
For me, in Athens, GA tonight, the rain is welcome and the wind is mild. Jesus’ companionship is free and easy but not necessarily life-saving. But in Alabama, the same rain and wind has decimated the homes and businesses of other believers. Jesus, their Shepherd, was called upon for strength and grit, for direction to know how to move forward while temporarily homeless. He is doing what a Shepherd does. He is guiding. He is dispensing grace. The Psalm rings true for them tonight, too. ‘I shall not want,’ they recite in the darkness. Even through their tears.
Life isn’t fixed yet but my need for a Savior and constant Friend is. No matter what may come – I shall not want. Amen