Feeling a bit melancholy this week, as I’m in touch with a significant number of people suffering under the weight of life. Abuse, addiction, bereavement, depression, discord, financial distress, illness, loneliness, resistance, stress, tribulations of all kinds.
I am reminded of a group training I did a few years ago at my former church, on the theology of “shepherding.” It’s a term used in the Bible to describe the attributes of God’s ways with people.
Psalm 23 is the most well-know for this imagery.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
I pasted the King James Version because I like it, and it uses the phrase, “I shall not want.” Some other versions use the phrase, “I shall lack nothing.” I think of lack as something that I want but don’t have or something I had but have since lost. That doesn’t work for me with this psalm. Reality of my life and the life of those others I described, is one where we all lack something, and have lost many things over time. I confess, since I left my former church, only one of those lovely people that were in class with me still speaks to me. Some may have love in their heart for me still, but we don’t talk anymore. I lack from that reality. I lost something as my life took a different turn.
Wanting, in terms of this Psalm, is different than lack, in my estimation. As I lack the presence of those earlier friends, it doesn’t mean I “want.” I have so many connections with supportive and encouraging people. I have a loving family. I have digital connections by social media, and I feel the joy they offer to me and the world.
Come on, you know I’m not a “don’t worry be happy” type of chick. I cuss too much for that. I can’t stand fake joviality, or trite expressions of, “don’t let anyone dull your sparkle!” (Barf) When I’m pissed or hurt? Don’t give me that shit.
Thankfully, underneath all the conversations and the daily list achievement or epic fails, down deep below the surface of practical living where the open wound of being born into this crazy world lives…There is a Balm that covers my wound. For me, it is the God that says, “you are fearfully and wonderfully made,” no matter what you say or accomplish or don’t say or don’t accomplish! “I will never leave you or forsake you,” regardless of how much you cry or yell or cuss. “I am with you, I take great delight in you and I rejoice over you with singing.”
Whatever lack or loss I have, I am not in want.
Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me – Elton John