I Lack Nothing

In this season of giving thanks, I live in a place where national families will not gather together to eat a feast and spend time with each other on November 28th.  There are no signs in windows reminding me to be thankful and there are no sections in a superstore where the art of giving thanks has been commercialized and adorable decorations are sold.  There are no construction paper turkey hats made by my children in school, and there has not been a school Thanksgiving feast for me to go watch my children enjoy.  I do not attend a church building on Sunday where the pastor will remind me to give thanks in all circumstances, and I do not have a women’s Bible study to go to for encouragement and fellowship. I don’t even have the ability to run to the local market and buy pecans for my mama’s pecan pie that I love to make every year.  Everyday life is so different.  Sometimes I look at my friends’ pictures on Facebook and literally feel like I live on an entirely different planet.  This isolation from what I once knew, along with the ugly of comparison, threatens to erode the thankful heart that I know I possess through Christ Jesus.  I have abundant blessings in my life, but my heart aches for all that is lacking in the physical and in the here and now.

Focus on lack is a dangerous thing.

This lack I see in my life – this disappointment at how God has allowed things to pan out – has slowly crept in as the stresses of everyday life relentlessly attempt to wear and tear my joy. Besides the deeply painful lack of parents, as well as friends and family from back home, I lack things like language, cultural knowledge, and things like cheddar cheese! Do you know what it’s like to live somewhere where every single thing is different than you are wired? After all this time of being here, I am just now learning that they shake their head no and it means yes. Sigh. Obsession with lack has become a poison to the undivided satisfaction I once had in Jesus. It happened slowly and the enemy was careful and crafty.  This enemy who accuses me and knows how to rip me apart, somehow subtly distracted me and my battle against him turned into a battle against my Father. A battle of “it’s not fair” and “why me?”  I have been so sad at all that I am missing out on….on all that I think is good…that I did not realize that I was creating my own definition of good, which I simply should not do.  God is more concerned with my joy than my comfort.  He is more concerned with my knowing Him than my worldly relief in this light and momentary suffering.  He is more concerned with molding me to look like His Son, than allowing me to continue to look exactly like this world.  I cannot treasure Christ above all if my eyes are busy searching the world for my temporal desires. I cannot treasure Christ’s promises if I allow the insults or persecution to cut me to the core, highlight lack, and distract me with the enemy’s lies.  I cannot treasure Christ above all if my mind is consumed by flipping through a catalog of memories, deeply longing to go backwards to a day when according to the world’s standards, I had it all.

Focus on lack is seeking the darkness He has rescued me from. 

But what if the moment in time where I stood as a teenager and watched my mother die wasn’t the first sting of lack, but rather the first gentle nudge towards this treasure hunt I’ve been on ever since.  What if each tragedy – each goodbye – each lonely night I spend at home as my husband goes out to tell others the Life-giving Good News – is a wave of grace in disguise? It’s upside down and it makes no sense, but my heart knows it’s true. Every lack in my life shows me the emptiness in all things besides Him. Every lack found in the darkness of my circumstances creates a hunger in my soul for the all-consuming fire that God is. He is the treasure I seek and He is radiantly beautiful.  Each lack I feel sorrow over shines a bright light on the steady and faithful good that is always found in my Father.  He is my Shepherd.  I shall not lack.

“The Lord is my Shepherd [to feed, guide, and shield me], I shall not lack.” ~Psalm 23:1, AMP

Lack (in Psalm 23) – 2637. חָסֵר ḥāsēr: A verb indicating to be lacking, to be needy; to decrease. In general, it refers to a failure of something to be fully complete, whole, sufficient (Ex. 16:18). It refers to a jar’s being empty (of oil) (1 Kgs. 17:14). Psalm 23:1 indicates that the one whose shepherd is the Lord shall not lack.

As a child of God, I am fully complete, whole, sufficient, and lacking in nothing.

“The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.” ~Psalm 34:10

“He points out that the young lions, the strongest beasts of prey who are most capable of providing for themselves, sometimes suffer want (v. 10). But those who fear God suffer no such lack. This is one of those verses that seems to be patently false. It is easy for us to think of all kinds of instances in which the people of God seemed to have lacked some good thing. We have, however, a tendency to think we know what constitutes our good. God’s definition of our good is different from our own. It is for us to be conformed to the image of his Son, and all that he does in our lives or allows to happen may safely be assumed to promote that great good.”
-Ellsworth, R. (2006). Opening up Psalms. Opening Up Commentary (p. 103)

As I studied the Bible for the word lack, I came across a familiar story and read it with new eyes…

The Rich and the Kingdom of God

17 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’”

20 “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”

21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.

23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”

24 The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

26 The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?”

27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”

28 Then Peter spoke up, “We have left everything to follow you!”

29 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”

As I read, the Holy Spirit convicted my heart. Jesus lovingly asked this man to give up his wealth to follow Him, and this man didn’t obey.  This man walked away from Life Himself and did not repent. The rich man found his satisfaction in the comfort of his temporary wealth and chose that over an eternity with God.  Will I allow the desire for all that I lack on this earth to distract me from following wholeheartedly?  Will my distractions…my idols…keep others from hearing the gospel and tasting salvation? Jesus has asked me to give up family and follow Him.  I must obey.  He is worth it.

“Therefore then, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who have borne testimony to the Truth], let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us,

Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection]. He, for the joy [of obtaining the prize] that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” ~Hebrews 12:1-3, AMP

Thursday, I will wake up and I will still lack the ability to call my parents and wish them “Happy Thanksgiving.”  I will lack the ability to walk to the market and tell the sweet cashier all that I want to tell her because of my beginner language skills.  I will lack the ability to bake a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, and I will lack the ability to flip on the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. And so you might ask, “how can you lack no good thing in Christ?” Healing from a physical disease is good because God gets the glory and His miraculous healing power is on display.  But lack of physical healing is also good because it draws us into the comforting arms of the Lord and teaches us complete and utter reliance on Him.  Right now, my days are spent in a moment by moment desperation for His help.  This lifestyle of depending on His grace to is what life is all about.  It’s all about Him. It’s all about knowing Him – not knowing about Him – but knowing Him and being made like Jesus. I believe He allows whatever will be used for the good of the Kingdom, the sanctifying of His children, and the glory of His name among the nations. This slaying of my heart’s desires is an invitation to walk resurrected, living out the miracle of having my death chains snapped and a new identity spoken over me. It’s a summon from the King to steady on through the ugly and through the pain as a royal daughter, tethered to the Hope which anchors my soul, firm and secure. It’s a call to live as if I believe the Truth that God alone is enough.  He is always enough.  Brothers and Sisters, He is worth knowing….let go of anything that hinders.

“But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him…” ~Philippians 3:7-9

And so….this Thanksgiving when my family welcomes one of our new friends to our dining room table we will remember that although we will be eating a simple meal of soup and bread and we will not have extended family all around us, we lack nothing. May our time with this new friend be glorifying to the Father and a time of deep gratitude for all that He is and all that He has saved us from.

If you find yourself in the wilderness right now, do not lose heart.  Maybe you’re like me and you’ve been distracted and upset….His love never lets you go. Run to Him and do not look back. Perhaps you are entering a trying season full of reminders of people who are not here to enjoy the holidays with you, fix your gaze on the Father. He will bring you to a place of abundance where you will know and understand that you truly lack nothing in Him.

“Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.  Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you. Observe the commands of the Lord your God, walking in obedience to him and revering him. For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land—a land with brooks, streams, and deep springs gushing out into the valleys and hills; a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing; a land where the rocks are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills.” ~Deuteronomy 8:2-9

{Thank you for loving & praying for our family!  We are settling in and studying language! I ask that you will pray this scripture over us in the coming days!}

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” ~Colossians 1:9-14