Psalm 23:1 – The Lord is my shepherd. He gives me everything I need. (NIRV)
Advent is a time for making preparations, to be ready for the coming of Jesus into your life and mine. We need to prepare for this "coming", for it may well happen in a new and perhaps even startling way.
How do we prepare for such a wonderful experience? It occurs to me that Psalm 23 is so beloved because it gives us the "how" and the "expectation" for what is coming. We are told immediately that this experience will be through a personal relationship with God, for the Lord is my shepherd. It goes on to say that this wonderful relationship is with a personal God who will provide everything that you and I need. So, during this Advent season, we are preparing for a personal relationship with Jesus, who fills our every need.
Many Christians, living in poverty, have far from everything they need, while in the western world, most of us have access to everything we need, or so we think. But I remember that when I was a child growing up in a minister's home during World War II, we had very little. Even a chocolate bar was rationed to one square each Sunday (unless my brother and I stole a piece when no one was looking). I wonder if this explains why I love chocolate today!
My sister and I had only one new Sunday outfit and one new school uniform each year; everything else was second-hand. Jesus' words in Matthew 6:29 haunted me, for "even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed" like me in hand-me-downs! Now, I realize that God was supplying all our needs through sharing, but humility in me was a spiritual need slow to be met!
Today in the western world, families of plenty focus much too much on material needs. A few years ago, we were on a recreational vehicle trip through Mexico, and there, I saw real poverty. Yet, the children smiled as they played ball, and mothers smiled as they swept the mud from their doors. One mother even told us that the shoes we had brought were more needed by another family. Was that pride or quiet confidence in sharing? What are the real needs that we turn to God to fill? Caring for others is the way the Good Shepherd provides for all our needs.
As we read through Psalm 23, each verse lists how and in what way God meets our every need. Through this wonderful relationship with our Lord, we receive rest, refreshment, healing, guidance, and so on. There is overwhelming richness in this Psalm for future meditations. Here is guidance on how to prepare for a personal relationship with Jesus, who meets our every need. Yes, this beloved Psalm speaks to our souls and fills us with the joy of being in a very special, wonderful relationship.
Prayer: Dear Lord, thank You for speaking to us today about our physical and spiritual needs. May we see ourselves more clearly as we meditate. May we give thanks realizing that our needs are being met through knowing You as our Shepherd. Thank You, Jesus, for leading us safely through this day with all our needs met. May we find a friend today with whom we can share Your love, and in so doing, help meet another's greatest need: to know You. As we introduce this new friend to You, may they experience, on a personal level, what it means to have this wonderful relationship with You, with Jesus our Lord, in whose name, we pray. Amen.