Saturday, July 12, 2014

A World of Lack

"The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I lack". Ps. 23:1
Life is pretty good for me right now. Some days I really feel like I lack nothing. But if I have a friend over to the house for the first time, I start to explain the disrepair, the things I'd like to have fixed up, replaced. I begin to apologize for the sagging back porch. I feel a little embarrassed by the clutter, the state of the bathroom, the ridiculously old-school TV. All of the sudden, I feel like there are many things I lack.

And of course there is the culture, the world we live in, which thrives on the maintenance of a sense of lacking. Lacking the right things, the newest things, the best things. Lacking the right feelings, the right attitude, the right heart. Not to mention the right body. The new and improved this, the better that. Or just another of what you already have. I have one but I need two. I have two but I need three.

I've noticed a lot of anger in my town. People on the street just bursting out, screaming at someone or perhaps at no one anyone else can see. It's simmering just beneath the surface. Anger, resentment, long-held grudges, claims to rights unfulfilled. Everybody seems to be on some sort of medication designed to prevent these feelings from bursting out destructively. And when someone seems to be out of control, we have a euphemism: we say he's off his meds.

That's the world we live in, a world of lack. But then there is this kingdom, this dominion, that Isaiah says will last forever. A dream that is, according to the 23rd psalm, also a felt reality for those who have the Lord as their shepherd.

Here's one aspect of the true faith-walk: the sense of lack destroyed. Isn't this a difference that Christian faith is supposed to make? We walk through the world lacking nothing. I don't think I really understand what this means. I think I'm going to have to think about it, imagine it, dream of it.

The essence of the Bible, the essence of Psalm 23, is the premise that, yes, there is one thing needful, the lacking of which produces a kind of endlessly ramifying anxiety. The one thing needful is to follow trustingly the Shepherd that David sings about. To green pastures, to quiet waters. To ease. To peace. To the real sense of needing nothing.

Anxiety ramifies. And so does peace. But it is harder to imagine the latter. We don't experience it routinely, as we do the former. But there is a promise, here in the Word, that we can. Perhaps it is time to take it seriously.

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