The Prison of Want (and how to escape)

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

I think the biggest struggle my wife and I have as parents is trying to teach our (nearly) 7-year-old daughter that life is not just a pursuit of entertainment, distraction, ease, and comfort. It’s hard when so many of those things are just a click away - not to mention the mountains of toys our kids seem to acquire these days thanks to Christmas, birthdays, well-meaning grandparents, and trips to McDonalds. My dad was a Christian school teacher all his life; our family never lacked the necessities of life, but we also never had much lying around for many of the “extras” - cable TV, new cars, vacations to Disney World, the latest video game consoles - my friends seem to have. Looking back now I can see my envy was sinful idolatry - at times felt intense anger and hatred towards my father in particular for not giving me the things I wanted. I see the same thing in my own daughter and know my parents must have experienced some of the same pain and frustration my wife and I are going through now.

I don’t want my kids to get caught in the same trap I did, chasing after empty promises and treasures that rust and rot away. It happens so easily, doesn’t it? When hard times come, I think we as Christians want to see and experience something that will give us 100% assurance that yes, God is real. When that doesn’t happen, I think it’s very easy to latch on instead to the things of this world that can - at least for a moment - give us what we seek. Ten years ago that thing was my love for adventure and exploring the wonders of the Pacific North West. I loved hiking new trails and climbing new mountains, but I took things to an extreme and failed to let my body have the rest it needed. Injuries came; injuries that didn’t heal, and after that, chronic pain. (I would later learn in 2013 during my stay at the Mayo Clinic’s chronic pain program that this happens all the time with athletes)

We can all fall into this prison of want; so how to we escape? In his devotional titled “The Prison of Want” Max Lucado shares the answer; it comes from the words of the Psalmist David, who wrote, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” Max says, “What I have in God is greater than what I don’t have in life.”

We can never obtain something better than God. If you’re in Christ, you already have more than the richest person without Christ could ever hope to gain. If you’re feeling trapped by the things of this world, open your Bible to Psalm 23 and grab hold of the key to open the door of that prison - “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”