3 Things to Know When Wants Overrun Your Life

“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.” – Psalm 23:1 ESV

Sleep and I are not the best of friends.

We have a love-hate relationship. I love sleep, but when it abandons me around 4AM most mornings, well … hate is almost too good of a word.

For years, I laid awake praying, crying, and even ranting in my head as I watched the room slowly brighten when another day began. My doctor warned me my lousy attitude would only bring on more sleeplessness. I had to find something better to do than lay in bed annoyed with my circumstances, so I thought I’d recite Bible verses instead.

At first, my list of memorized Bible verses was rather short. I was limited to what I like to call “popular Scripture quickies” like:

Rejoice always. (1 Thessalonians 5:16)

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever. (Psalm 136:1)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

See, quick and easy to remember, and might I add, quite useful when someone is having a bad day and you feel the need to throw your holiness – I mean helpfulness, around.

I also knew one chapter in one book. Psalm 23 was, and is, my favorite to recite when sleep evades.

It’s really a test chapter for me. If I can keep my mind from wandering the whole way through, then I feel like a Bible reciter superstar. I can almost feel Jesus patting me on the back saying, “Well done! You made it through six verses of green pastures, quiet waters, straight paths, dark valleys, lunch before your enemies, and look, you gained an overflowing cup, good job!”

I’d love to say he often rewards me for my amazing focus, but that’s simply not true.

In fact, I rarely get past the first nine words.

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

Oh, but I do want. And no sooner do those words come out, when my mind rushes to all the things I DO want.

I want my marriage to thrive, my kids to flourish, my fears quieted, and a simpler life.

I want to bear fruit, experience peace, find joy, be healthy, and live and love with intention.

I want to kill my insecurities, conquer my doubts, squash my self-centered tendencies, and simply be heard.

Yes, Lord, I do indeed want.

How about you? What does your want list look like?

Here’s another question …

How can we match our want list to the idea that God says we have no need to want at all?

Of course God is right. If we had all-out trust in him, then our want list would be irrelevant. But since our trust continues as a work in progress, I’d like to suggest three things to keep in mind when wants try to overrun our life:

1. Make peace with your whats, whens, and wheres while God works on your who.

We can get bogged down with circumstances, timing, and location while  forgetting that where we are, what we’re doing, and the season in which we’re doing it, are the very conditions God uses to shape us into his likeness. For me, trying to love my family in our troubled fixer-upper, while wrestling past wounds and everyday stresses, is the perfect setting for God to form me into his fragrant creation. If we keep our sights on who God is making us, we’ll have more patience when the not-so-great areas of our life start to overwhelm us.

2. Be encouraged in the Lord.

Scripture tells us God is the Good Shepherd (John 10:11) who gives good gifts (James 1:17) and makes everything beautiful in its time (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Our Good Shepherd – who is perfect in all his duties, takes exceptional care to guard, feed, rest, call, mark, guide, search for, and go ahead of his flock. Our wants are known. And sometimes we have to drop them all right where they are and run for the hills. To a solitary place where, in spite of how we feel, we praise God for who he is, find hope in his Word, and experience his majesty through creation around us. Claiming joy in the Lord is our weapon to peace, and abiding in him brings his perspective to our wants.

3. His goodness becomes the goodness we want.

Let’s face it, when we’re consumed by our wants, it’s because we’re afraid. Afraid they’ll go unmet or unheard. There’s a loss of control and we’re certain our pain, anxiety, or troubles are with us until the end.

When David wrote “I shall not want”, he wasn’t just saying we have no need to want, but that with God, we’ll also receive everything we need. Our wants may not be fulfilled how we think they should, but that doesn’t mean we are without. We have to adjust our thinking to believe …

I shall be supplied with whatever I need; and, if I have not everything I desire, I may conclude it is either not fit for me, or not good for me, or I shall have it in due time. – Matthew Henry

Our wants are sure to pile up. And they’ll likely keep us sleepless, preoccupied, or fearful at times. But if we let God work out his holiness in us, commit to praising him through our wants, and change our thinking to let his plans prevail, I believe joy and peace can be ours.

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