He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.
Psalm 23:3 NAS
We all have needs; most of us have wants that dictate a great deal of what and how we do things in life. It might be a little embarrassing but one could make the argument that unless we are getting something out of our interactions and experiences we will quickly stop valuing that activity or experience because we are not getting anything out of it; it does not have value to us.
We have needs because God created us with them. Certainly we have needs because that is how God designed us. We are profoundly dependent on an innumerable number of “needs” from breathing air to eating food; we need parents because we cannot come into this world apart from them and we are dependent on them to help us survive and thrive in the world, at least in the very early stages of life. We are in so many ways, very needy and very dependent on having those needs met to exist and function in life. We are “wonderfully and fearfully made” as the Psalmist proclaims (Psalm 139:14). There is nothing wrong with acknowledging our needs because it would be foolish to deny that we are dependent, finite creatures that have needs.
But we are also “needy” because of our sin and separation from God. Since the Fall, we are also broken, dysfunctional and messed up. In some ways we still have the same needs but we now try and meet those needs in a way that does not match God’s design. Those needs may feel far more intense (maybe) but the real problem is that in our brokenness we find our own way of meeting those needs instead of God’s way. Often the “way we do it” seems very practical and utilitarian but it is not the way God has designed those needs to be met. We often do not know how to respond properly to our own needs much less anyone else’s.
As an example, God created us with the need for relationship. The Fall (Adam and Eve stuff) caused a fracture in our relationship with God and with others. So while we still have need for relationships at all kinds of levels we often experience conflict, frustration and even loneliness because we often try to manipulate, control and make demands on others as to how they must meet my need… because I need relationship. But the problem is that we go about trying to have that need met in all the wrong ways and in all the wrong places.
God’s design – notice in Psalm 23:3 these simple statements –
- He restores my soul – God is the one who can fill the need of our soul. He helps us understand our identity; proper and healthy intimacy in relationships; He can help us experience the fullness of His love; He can show us how much He can impact the purpose and meaning of life by allowing Him to fill that need. But in our brokenness we try and find our own ways of meeting that based on what makes sense to us. While these efforts can sometimes (temporarily) work they cannot meet that need the way God has designed it to be met.
- He guides me in paths of righteousness – God has a way that is right in the way we live life. He has a right to tell us how we should live because He is the architect of life. He best knows how to meet our needs. If we meet needs in our life in a way that does not match His way of meeting that need (a way that is right or righteousness) we will still find a gap in meeting that need fully.
- For His Name sake – here is the biggest kicker. In our selfishness we expect God to meet our needs, but we want Him to do it the way we want it done not the way He wants to meet our needs. Ultimately He meets our needs for His Name sake not for our name sake. He is not simply a concierge who is there to meet every desire. He has created us for relationship with Him and He has a way to restore our soul and do it His way so that He is honored. Big shift in world view to understand that design.