I've just been to our children's holiday Bible club. It was the usually ear splitting hullabaloo of fun, sweets, songs and grown ups making a fool of themselves. The memory verse this year is a whopper. It comes from what is probably the favourite chapter of the Bible.
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me. (Psalm 23:1-4)
I was struck by the first line. "The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing."
The children at the club are growing up in the world that teaches them to be constantly dissatisfied. It tells them that they need more and they need new. We have a multi-billion pound industry founded on the dissatisfaction of the human heart. Advertising.
But it's not just material things that people crave. We crave more relationships, as try to clock up Facebook friends. We crave more experiences. We spend life desperately trying to feel like we lack nothing.
King David knew that only in one place could that feeling be genuinely found. In relationship with His loving Lord. The Lord who, like a shepherd, cared for his sheep. The Lord who is known perfectly in Jesus, the one who said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." (John 10:11)
If you have Jesus Christ as your Good Shepherd you lack nothing. You have the unending, faithful love of God your heavenly Father who sent his Son to die for you. You have the status of righteous son of God. An inheritor of every blessing that Jesus has won for you. You have the presence of the very Spirit of Christ in your heart. You have Jesus interceding in heaven constantly for you. You have the certain future of being face to face with your loving Shepherd King in a perfect world.
That's really a very brief and poor description of some of what you have if the Lord is your shepherd!
Next Tuesday I am going back to Preston to take the funeral of a man who knew the truth of Psalm 23:1. It was George and Hilda's favourite Psalm. Hilda died last year, 10 years after having a stroke that left her unable to get about much. She and George spent a lot of time sitting in their front room in Lytham. George was Hilda's carer, until he needed a carer himself. When you get into your mid 90's you need looking after!
Humanly their life could have been a lot better. There were regular trips to hospital, minor surgery for George and more discomfort and pain that I expect that they ever admitted. They had every reason to have a grumble from time to time. They had moments of tears when life all seemed a bit much. But over the years that I had the privilege of visiting them there was one phrase that was repeated more than any other: "We are so blessed!"
That is Psalm 23:1 in action. "The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing."
So often we deny ourselves that knowledge because we spend a lot of time thinking about ourselves, rather than dwelling on what we have in Jesus Christ, our Good Shepherd. It is because he was at the heart of George and Hilda's life that I know that George's greatest joy now is not being with Hilda again, but rather being face to face with the one who loved him even more than his precious wife.
I pray this week that many children would come to know the Lord as their shepherd and so find in Him they lack nothing.