These opening words of Psalm 23 are perhaps some of the most well known words of Holy Scriptures. I particularly like the way the New Living Translation of the Bible translates this passage, “The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need.”
Now, you and I both know that we live in a culture in which many of us have far more than we need. So, I can’t help but wonder if we ever really take the time to contemplate what these ancient words mean. What does it mean to place your trust in the Shepherd? What does it mean to declare to the God of all creation, “I have all that I need?”
Just yesterday I was getting out of my car, and suddenly I noticed a small red bird. He was not a cardinal, so I think he may have been a rose finch. He was beautiful. But what was striking to me is that he was sitting on the grass feasting on the seeds of what looked like a dandelion. He didn’t startle or fly off, so I stopped for a moment and watched him. I couldn’t help but think about how this tiny bird had everything he needed.
I wonder why we can’t be like that. Is it that we are numb from being surrounded by all that we have? Is it that we fight and scratch to make sure we have enough and more than enough? Is it that we are convinced that we can somehow control our lives and our future? Or, maybe it’s that we are afraid of the world “out there,” and so we fill up our lives with stuff and things and activities and events to buffer ourselves? Or, perhaps it is that we have just become so accustomed to having so much, to being so, “full up” that we don’t have room, we aren’t empty enough to receive the Presence and peace that we so desperately seek?
And I think of all the people who don’t have enough, not enough healthy food or clean water, not enough hope, not enough love. And if that is the case, might my giving up a little of all that I have, all the stuff and food and clean water, all the money and belongings, all the hope and love that I have make the world a better place for someone who doesn’t have what they need?
I don’t know, but what I do know is that when I say the words, “You Lord, are my Shepherd, I have everything I need,” the beat of my heart slows down, and I am awash with peace, I am able to see my life and the world more clearly. My trust of the Shepherd increases, and I know that I can live in ways, so that all may have what they need. And then, well, I’m like that little red bird feasting on the dandelion, filled up with the gifts of God. Then I am able to exclaim, “I have everything I need!” It’s a good place to be. Won’t you join me there?
Holy One, remind me that in You, I have all I need. Then help me to so live that others who do not have enough will have what they need as well. You are my hope and peace and for that I give You thanks and praise. Amen.