What more could I want?

Tales from the Unending Story

April 20, 2023 | Opinion | Volume 27 Issue 8
Joshua Penfold | Columnist
(Photo by Ello/Unsplash)

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1).

Despite regular self-reminders of my abundance, I want.

Despite the ongoing conversations with my children about our relative wealth, they want.

Despite overflowing shelves of books and games, and complaining about lack of storage space, and instruments that barely see the light of day, I want.

Despite a fridge, freezer and pantry full of food, even if they cost a bit more these days, I want.

Despite the comfort of our more-than-adequate house, we want.

Despite vacations and Netflix and just-because purchases, we want.

Despite exposure to countless songs, sermons and scriptures revealing our safety, salvation and shalom in God, we want.

It really is amazing—perhaps disturbing—how ill-content I am. I sometimes can scarcely sit for a few minutes without feeling restless. So often I’m unable to be present and embrace the moment. In the quiet I need music or a podcast, and in a short moment of downtime my hands jitter to check my phone.

There are so many things and people vying for my attention. The never-ending emails and notifications, and then the advertisements are everywhere: billboards, commercials, in-game or in-podcast ads, the logos and brands we wear, drive, consume, enjoy.

There is a surround-sound bombardment prophesying solutions to our problem of want. A problem that they created. They’ve infected us with dissatisfaction and now want to sell us the solution: more, newer, faster, shinier, trendier. But we all know, deep down, it doesn’t satisfy or cure the sickness.

But there’s another voice. An often-still, small voice. The voice of a shepherd quietly and persistently bidding the sheep to listen carefully. This voice doesn’t offer anything flashy or entertaining, but if you can tune out and escape the many other louder and obnoxious voices, the shepherd’s voice bids you come and offers something the others cannot fathom, something the others actually despise. The shepherd offers something that is both medicine and weapon. It is better than anything offered by anyone else. It is more powerful, but it is cloaked in humility. It is more satisfying, but it is cloaked in vulnerability. It is more liberating, but it is cloaked in dependence.

The shepherd is quietly offering this “wantlessness.” He offers himself, which is everything. And if one has everything, how can you want for anything?

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”

What more could one want, really?

Joshua Penfold (penfoldjoshua@gmail.com) would recommend Robert Alter’s The Book of Psalms: A Translation with Commentary.

Read more Tales from the Unending Story:
Within a shadow of doubt
A shielded sleep
When inadequate is enough
Soil lover
Priests of what are not gods

(Photo by Ello/Unsplash)

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