The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
This week, we're talking about Psalm 23 a little bit and just what it means for the Lord to be a shepherd, which is an occupation we're less familiar with in the technological age. Yesterday, we looked through the rest of the psalm to see just what it is that the shepherd provides, to get a sense of the important role he plays in the life of the sheep.
But Jesus Himself says something about His shepherdship, and this, to me, may be more important than all the rest, living water, guidance, home, provision, etc. that the shepherd provides. What He says is this:
The sheep know my voice.
It's important because, for me, that's really all I want most of the time. You give me rest, and I'm going to be seeking more rest. You give me living water, and I'll be thirsting for living water. You give me guidance, and I'm always going to be asking you where to go, what to do, how to live. You give me protection, I will always be looking to you for protection. In other words, even though what the shepherd provides for the sheep is sufficient, it doesn't necessarily feel sufficient. It leaves me always looking for more of it. Particularly when the still waters start to rage and the good paths get grown over and the rod breaks and the staff withers and it doesn't feel like things are going as well as the shepherd might try to convince me that they are.
But talk to me...let me hear your voice...and you've got me.
So often, I think that's all I really need from God in this world. Don't get me wrong - the rest of it is nice and all. But I feel like I spend so much of my life just begging, God, keep talking to me. Just a few words. Just here and there, if that's all it takes. Just let me hear Your voice. Remind me that You're there. Tell me You're here.
If God would just keep talking to me, I would have everything I need; I shall not want.
Because really, it's God's voice that answers my most pressing questions. It's God's voice that fills my most pressing needs. Rest is nice, but what's nicer is knowing there is a place to rest. That there is a place so safe, so comfortable, so reassuring that rest is even possible. Living water is great, but it is in His voice that I hear the never-ending stream. It is in His voice that I hear what constant grace sounds like. Guidance is good, but when He speaks, I hear His confidence in the path we're taking. Protection is comforting, but in the low growl of a Father's voice, I hear how fierce His protection really is. All these things God, the Good Shepherd, gives to His flock, and it is His voice that makes them meaningful.
For, I guess, it is in His voice that I hear love.
We've got this a little backward in our world. Or, really backward. We think it's the provision that's love. We think it's what someone gives us that shows love. I know a lot of families that show love not by presence but by presents, and so many of us have come to expect the same of our God. But not me. I guess that's why it's easy for me to appreciate Psalm 23 - The Lord is my shepherd - but to cherish the words of Jesus - My sheep know my voice.
Oh, how I long to hear that voice. Again and again and again and again...
I have everything I need.