Psalm 23

This summer in Africa, I got to spend three weeks with one of my heroes. Mr. Mooney and I were on a janky looking bus on the way from Jinja to Entebbe and we were talking about Christ. I asked Mooney what he had been learning from the Bible that summer. One of the things that I admire most about Mooney is his love for God’s word and his discipline in diving into the word every morning. So asking that question, I remember expecting a long response with multiple references to sections of the Bible I’ve never heard of. His response was so simple, “I’ve really been diving into Psalm 23.” Psalm 23? The one about the sheep and the valleys and stuff? I thought that they only taught that to 2nd graders. “Yeah, there’s a lot there.”

And there is. There’s so much in this short Psalm about who God is and what walking with Him looks like that I’m embarrassed I thought it had been relegated only to Awana class and Picture Bibles. Alright my words are done. Sola Scriptura from here on out.

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.

You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
forever. Psalm 23


Food and Clothes

With big plans for this weekend and the next, all of me wants a fast forward button. Part of me doesn’t feel like that’s wrong. Fall break this weekend means a long weekend in Austin. The current plans are wake-boarding, meeting up with a best friend from home, spending the night in a lake cabin, and the Baylor-Texas football game. I’ve got every reason to spend my days lazily looking up reviews for restaurants in Austin and watching youtube instructional videos for that next wakeboard trick I want to master. The Word this morning that Nate and I read through suggests this isn’t the way I’m supposed to approach today or tomorrow.

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:25-33

It’s interesting how our current situation can change what we get out of God’s Word. In the past, I’ve always read this passage and taken from it that God will provide. “If He takes care of the birds and flowers, He’ll take care of you,” or that sort of thing. While that’s a great message, I’ve been incredibly blessed all my life to never really have to worry about clothes or food. They’ve just always been there and it’s not something I worry about much. I realize that this not being a worry for me is absolutely a gift from God and something that could be taken away at any moment by a number of circumstances but none of them see all that likely at any particular moment. Today, I got something completely different out of the passage.

The truth I realized today is that living for insignificant things in the future is wrong. Not just that, but materialism is wrong. Pursuing the coolest clothes and the best food over God is wrong.  The restaurant I eat at Friday night is not a big deal. Like verse 25 says, “Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?” It is. It is way more.

Food and clothes aren’t bad. I once watched an episode of Wife Swap where this woman thought that humans could receive nourishment from the sun. She started her days with several hours of sunbathing in the nude. She was nuts. People who don’t think we need food and clothes are crazy and they get put on Wife Swap. (Side note: I’ve seen three episodes of Wife Swap and none of the people have ever been remotely normal. Where do they find those families?) Verse 31 says that the Lord knows we need these things.

The issue comes when I seek these things over God. Am I seeking first His kingdom? If I’m spending the rest of my week planning my weekend, I don’t think so. I’m worrying about tomorrow and my mind isn’t in the present. It’s not seeing opportunities to show Christ’s love, it’s not developing the gifts God has given me, and it’s certainly not being grateful for all the crazy grace that I have in Jesus.

I’ll end with the last verse in that passage from The Message translation of the Bible. And I hope you and I live it today.

34 Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow… Matthew 6:34a