Friday, October 22, 2010

Contentment Revisited

The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want…

Simple words. We’ve read them so many times we think we know them. Already your mind may be scanning over them to these sentences following, hoping to find something more profound, or at least something new. But truth in its simplicity is profound, and the longer I stay in India the more I realize how hard such truths are to apply. My mind may race ahead in comprehension, searching for some new theology or proverb to unravel, but my flesh lags behind, dying slowly, proving that I will not rise above the need for kindergarten-like truths of Scripture any time soon.

One brother recently challenged me with the reverse statement of this well-read Psalm. It has left me with whole realms of application yet to be explored:

I shall not want if the Lord is my shepherd. Translation: If I am wanting, then I am not living with the Lord as my shepherd.

How many times in a day do I pause to grumble or complain, to wish something was different? The truth is I have no unfulfilled needs. God has given, so there is no lack. Yet in my flesh, I may perceive lingering needs; I may step out of agreement with God and accuse the truth of being a lie. I will not say so openly, but somewhere deep inside the doubt will be entertained; my actions will reveal the innermost thoughts of my soul. I doubt God, therefore I grumble.

My dissatisfaction is not a clue that God has failed to provide, rather that I have failed to place myself under submission to my shepherd. Will I believe him when he tells me my needs? Will I trust him when what I call a need he redefines as a want? Will I relinquish my thoughts in exchange for his?

The green pastures and quiet waters of my shepherd are filled to overflowing with goodness and beauty and grace, but they look much different than what this blind, dumb sheep often expects to find. Abba, teach me of the hidden treasures of contentment, the beauty of denying myself, the glory of discipleship that says none but you my Lord.

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