One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.
It’s an incredible statement, one that I’m not sure I could honestly make. It’s made even more powerful when you realize that it was written by a man who is under attack. His “one thing” isn’t safety, or vindication, or victory. His one thing isn’t power, control, or retribution. No, even under personal duress, the one thing that David wishes for is to be in God’s house taking in the grandeur and glory of the beauty of the Lord. This desire was designed to be the central motivating desire of every person created by God and made in his image. And yet, on this side of the garden, it seems a statement that could only ever be made by a deeply devout human being.
It does beg the question, “What’s your one thing?” What is the one thing that your heart craves? What is the one thing that you think would change your life? What is the one thing that you look to for satisfaction, contentment, or peace? What is the one thing that you mourn having to live without? What is the one thing that fills your daydreams and commands your sleepy meditations? What is your one thing?
The spiritual reality for many of us is that the one thing is not the Lord. And the danger in that reality is this: your one thing will control your heart, and whatever controls your heart will exercise inescapable influence over your words, choices, and actions. Your one thing will become that which shapes and directs your responses to the situations and relationships of your daily life. If the Lord isn’t your one thing, the thing that is your one thing will be your functional lord. Here is what you say to yourself when something is your one thing: “Life has meaning and I have worth only if I have ___________ in my life.” The problem is that the one-thing catalog1 is virtually endless:
• Power. Life has meaning or I have worth only if I have power and influence over others.
• Approval. If I am loved and respected by________.
• Comfort. If I have a certain kind of pleasure or experience.
• Image. If I have a certain look or body image.
• Control. If I am able to have mastery over a particular area of my life.
• Dependence. If someone is there to keep me safe.
• Independence. If I am completely free of the obligation or responsibility to take care of someone.
• Inclusion: If a particular social or professional group lets me into their inner ring.
• Achievement. If I am recognized for my accomplishments.
• Prosperity. If I have a certain level of wealth, finance, nice possessions.
• Work. If I am highly productive and get a lot done.
• Religion. If I am adhering to my religion’s codes and accomplished in its activities.
• Irreligion. If I am totally independent of organized religion and have a self-made morality.
• Race or culture. If my race and culture are ascendant and recognized as superior.
• A person. If this one person is happy to be in my life and happy with me.
• Family. If my children/parents are happy and happy with me.
• Helping. If people are dependent on me and need me.
• Suffering. If I am hurting or having a problem, only then do I feel noble, worthy of love, or free of guilt.
You see, in every situation and relationship of your everyday life, there is a one-thing war being fought on the turf of your heart. You and I are safe only when the Lord really is the one thing that commands
our hearts and controls our actions. Yet there are many things that compete with him as the one thing that your heart craves. a shelter in the time of storm
Where are you looking for meaning and worth? What is the beauty that you wish you had in your life? What is your one thing?
Take a Moment
1. Look at the one-thing catalog. Which of these has tended to hook you? How has that shaped what you do and say?
2. Where do you see a daily war taking place for the control of your heart?
Chapter 8 of a SHELTER in the time OF STORM: meditations on God and trouble by Paul David Tripp