We live in an “I want” society. The greatest songs, movies, and books all contain characters that are trying to achieve something, whether they get it or not. We live in a world where we encourage others to seek their hearts desires, to get their piece of the sky, to win and obtain what they truly “deserve.”
When I was younger my sister and I had a game we would play when watching television. Whenever our show would go on commercial break we would intensely wait for what great toy would be advertised. The first of the two of us who could yell, “Mine!” the fastest would “get” that toy. Of course, we would never actually get whatever we claimed. The appeal of it was the wanting. It was exciting to see if we would want the same things and even more exciting when one of us got a claim on what we wanted. It didn’t really matter that I never got what I wanted. There was always something else that I wanted more. Commercial after commercial, my sister and I would fight to claim toys and we always wanted the next one even more than the last. I’ve come to realize that I and many other people live their entire lives this way. We are always in want.
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want”
Psalm 23 is very popular passage but the second part of verse 1 has always confused and honestly made me feel a little uncomfortable. What exactly does “I shall not want” mean? Does it mean that I shouldn’t have any desires? Any goals? Any aspirations? That’s obviously not true. God doesn’t expect us to have meaningless, purposeless lives. He wants us to pursue fulfilling and completely satisfying lives. Psalm 23 simply expresses what truly brings that satisfaction.
I have lived a lot of my life in want. And when I had achieved that want, I simply move on to the next thing that my heart had been longing for. We all think that achieving the things we want will satisfy us. That the better car, house, job, or boyfriend/girlfriend will finally make us happy. But we will soon find that they just make the holes we are trying to fill bigger. All it does is make us want more.
The Bible tells us that God is the true way to satisfaction. He is able to fill our every need and desire. But if Jesus is the way to a meaningful and purposeful life, why are we still desperately seeking satisfaction elsewhere? It is pretty difficult to be fulfilled by God if we are constanly filling ourselves with other things. We get stuck in a cycle of achieving what we think we want and being disappointed when it leaves us empty again, so we move on to the next thing. And the cycle continues… Unfortunately for many, it never ends.
But God wants to satisfy us and to never have us be empty again. The funny part is that to be filled and satisfied with God, we must become empty. We must be needy in order to receive. We must be broken in order to be restored and we must die to ourselves and the world to truly have life. God can provide everything in Jesus Christ. Psalm 23 does not mean that we are not to have any desires, it means that every desire has already been filled by the goodness of God.
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
3 He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
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 goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord