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9th February: My Shepherd (2)

I shall not want. Psalm 23:1

There are lots of things that I want: to be ready for the ward-round, to climb the ladder, to keep my temper, to take a half-day, to have a lot of friends, to get out of the rat race and to have a bigger car. Oh! yes, and to be a better witness. It is untrue to say that I don't want anything. Our error is to equate wants with needs, but this is a toddler attitude. David's more mature concept is of unlimited provision available rather than any imperiousness of appetite: I shall not want for anything rather than not wish for anything. `I shall lack nothing' (NIV).

The Good Shepherd has endless resources (Phil 4:19). He also has great career plans (Jn 10:27). He is totally aware of our practical needs (Mt 6:25, 32). He cares about all our needs (Jas 1:4).

In the technological society the waiting is taken out of wanting: whether a cup of coffee, a biochemical profile or a trans-continental 'phone-in, we only have to press the right buttons and the deed is done. Not so with the shepherding. To watch a flock of sheep is to see the conflict between each sheep's longing for its own way and the shepherd's intention for them all. They may become bewildered, panic or make a dash for freedom, unaware that he is trying to lead them to better pastures or safe shelter. How much easier for all concerned when they have learned to fall in with his plans! The pursuit of a wisp of dry moorland grass is a very small ambition, and it is sheer folly to bleat after that when more verdant pastures are waiting. Learning to trust and obey does involve waiting -- for us, learning to wait upon God.

Doctors are often impatient by nature. The pressures of over-work and of life-threatening crises mingled with the subservience of patients and high expectations of other team members, can lead to an arrogant and hasty approach to others, conducive neither to good patient care not to a good team spirit. Tests of patience come in many guises: the intrusive 'phone-call, the opportunist consultation (`while you're here, doctor'), the blocked drip or the over-booked clinic -- we each have our own last straw. In time, we may learn to use each as an opportunity to run to the Shepherd, choosing to stay close to him rather than running wildly out of control. Then we shall have daily exercises in seeing how he can, and does, lead towards calmer waters. Then a more cohesive spirit will invade the team, patients will perceive a more restful attitude and we shall learn that when requests are made according to his will, he really does supply. I shall not want.

I nothing lack if I am his and he is mine for ever.
H W Baker

Further reading: Phil 4:6-19.


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