Standing in front of a candy or soda vending machine, nothing happens until we make a choice. Which choice to make? There are desirable ones. Tempting ones. Something that might taste good, might even make us feel satisfied for a while. But one thing is certain: whatever we choose will be temporary. We will thirst again. We will hunger again.
Too often, we treat God like a Cosmic Vending Machine. We expect to “push a button” and get the treats. We expect God to satisfy us the way we want to be satisfied. Thankfully, God doesn’t operate that way. Like any good parent, He has our highest good in mind. God knows our deepest desires, the ones that extend beyond mere appetite. And it is those desires God seeks to satisfy. Desires like significance, freedom, belonging, and approval.
God is not a vending machine, He is a Shepherd. And like a good shepherd leading sheep to grass and water, God leads us to the places where we can gain this deep satisfaction. But like a sheep, we might have to cross terrain that is unfamiliar, scary, monotonous, or tempting.
We still have a choice, but not what vending machine lever to pull. Our pivotal choice is the perspective we choose on how to see God. Is He the Good Shepherd who has our best interest at heart? Or a genie in a bottle to call on when all else fails? The Bible invites us to walk a path that leads to the fulfillment of our own deepest desires. The path is to follow Jesus wherever He leads through all the terrains of life.
“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He leads me to lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.”
– Psalm 23:1