I shall not want...

"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want..." I've know this verse for years (the start of Psalm 23) and in fact, have written a few poems using the Psalm as a guide. But today, as so often happens with Scripture, I saw this first sentence in a new light.

It all started with carpet. Well, that's probably not exactly where it began, but we'll pretend it did. I've been wanting new carpet in our the main rooms of our house for years. The carpet in most places is the original, which we had put in 23 years ago, and it was well worn. But other priorities kept getting in the way, so it kept getting pushed back on my "let's fix this" wish list. Then at last, a few months ago, I asked Randy if I could just "look" at carpet. He didn't object, so I visited a local store and brought home some samples. One thing led to another, and we ended up ordering the carpet. But then, of course, the walls needed painting, but before you can paint walls, you need to fix the drywall glitches. So Randy set to work. Two weeks of drywall repair later, and we spent this weekend priming and painting the walls and ceiling. Ask me if I'm exhausted...

Exhausted and stressed would probably be an understatement, and today I had a bit of a meltdown or a cry session, whatever you want to call it. The sun had hidden behind a sea of gray and the paint fumes had made me feel sick. Yesterday, I managed to knock over a bookcase and overreacted. That should have been a clue. I've been pushing myself beyond what I'm used to, but figured I could handle it. Let's just say, I've had better days...

But the tears did lead me to a bit of introspection, and as I was writing in my prayer journal, I realized that I really had no business complaining. But then I also realized that once we finish this room and the whole project is finished, I still won't be content. There are too many rooms with too many things that need fixing for that. (And too much clutter to go through, and too many places I'd like to visit, and too many things I'd like to buy...there is always something more.)

Isn't it just like us to always want the next best thing? If it's material goods, we buy a new phone or computer or other electronic gadget and enjoy it for a while until the next generation of that product comes out. If we are successful at one level in our work, we aren't satisfied until we've reached the next one.

Where does contentment come in?

"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want..."

"I shall not want..."

The Lord is my shepherd, but I sure end up wanting a lot of things. I want more rooms painted, more remodeling around the house. My favorite clothing catalog comes and I want more jackets or shirts or scarves or whatever. I get on the scale and I want to lose more weight. I look in the mirror and I want less wrinkles in my skin. I look at my work, and I wish I could do it better. The list never ends. Never.

And I wonder how the Apostle Paul could say, "I have learned in whatever state I'm in, therewith to be contest."

"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want..."

Sheep have needs. They are helpless and dumb and can't think for themselves. Without a shepherd, they would be in great want just to live. People don't like thinking of themselves as sheep, though that's how Jesus described us, because we want to think we are self-sufficient and smart and can handle things just fine. But when we don't have a shepherd, or don't trust the one we do have, we end up wanting and never finding satisfaction in what we have.

"He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside still waters, He restores my soul."

And if I let Him lead me, I really won't want for anything. Maybe this is the secret of contentment Paul talked about. To recognize I really am just a sheep who needs to do far less striving and far more listening for her Shepherd's voice.


PersonalJill Eileen Smith