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One Thing


What's your one thing? Depending on your current, momentary circumstances, it could  be many things:

  • If you have just finished a marathon, your one thing might be a drink of water
  • If you haven't eaten all day, your one thing  might be a meal.
  • If you are facing match point in the final set of Wimbledon, your one thing might be getting the ball back over the net.

As we go through life, we face a perpetually-changing array of priorities - we move from one thing to the next, based on our circumstances and situation.

But beyond circumstances, some of us are consumed with a bigger one thing that transcends moments and shapes the trajectory of our lives. It might be getting a certain degree or a certain job or accomplishing a grand life project. Some GREAT THINGS are really key one things that people have pursued with passion over time.

  • For Thomas Edison, it was the incandescent light bulb (followed by many other one things!). But it didn't come easily; he failed many times before he had a bulb that worked.
  • For Alber Einstein, it was the theory of relativity (both general and special). There are many things Einstein didn't pursue; but his focus on physics unlocked key insights into the universe.
  • For Martin Luther King, Jr, it was civil rights for African-Americans. His I have a dream speech still stands as one of the great pieces of prophetic rhetoric from the 20th century.

When we turn to the Bible, however, we see people captivated by a different kind of one thingFor David (Shepherd, Psalmist, and King), there was one one thing that surpassed all others; one one thing that became a perpetual pursuit that gave shape to his life. This is what he writes in Psalm 27:4:

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 enquire in his temple.

What a fascinating thought: David had a revelation of God so compelling that to be with and gaze upon the Lord would be enough. This explains why God himself was David's primary pursuit:

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
    my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
    as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

Psalm 63:1

This description - earnestly I seek you - implies passionate and consistent puruit. This word earnestly (Hebrew Shâchar שָׁחַר.) means earnest and early seeking and comes from a root that means to dawn: to be up early at any task, to pursue something with earnestness,  to seek diligently – to get up early and attack the day with a specific task in mind.

This isn't a casual enquiry, this is a passionate pursuit.  There are, of course, benefits that come to those who seek God:

  • seeing God's power and glory (v.2)
  • experiencing  God's love (v.3) 
  • soul satisfaction (v. 6)
  • being upheld by God (v. 8)

Other scriptures describe other benefits. According to Psalm 16:11, these include fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore. If we get all these benefits, then why are we more easily given to one things other than earnestly seeking God? Here's the answer:

Information does not produce inspiration or motivation

If it did, we'd all be fit. Why? Because we all know that eating healthily and exercising regularly makes us healthier. We know this. But we don't do it. Why? Because information does not produce inspiriation or motivation.

I rememer being a university student, watching all these freshers unleashed from their parent's oversight, living on their own for the first time. Some studied, some partied, some joined clubs, some did nothing. The key insight that came to me about human behaviour is simple but profound:

People do what they want to do.

Every day we make hundreds of choices; some of these feel constrained (I have to go to work), but even then, these are choices we make without compulsion; no one is holding a gun to our heads. And often our choices are rooted in a cost/benefit analysis:

  • The benefit of going to work is greater than the cost of time and effort.
  • The benefit of eating well and exercising is greater than the cost of saying 'no' to certain foods and enduring the mild discomfort that comes from physical excertion.
  • The benefit of being faithful to our spouse is greater than whatever we think faithfulness might cost us.

All of these are normal cost/benefit analyses. Our problem is that when it comes to God, we either see the cost as too high or the benefit as too low, and so we don't earnestly seek God like David.

There are other obstacles that can prevent us from seeking God: we face micro-distractions (our mind wanders when we're praying or reading the Bible) and macro-distractions (our life gets cluttered with other pursuits). And for some of us, we're simply unsure that we really want to meet this God.

The promise of scripture over and over in many places and multiple descriptors is clear: the cost of seeking God is worth it. Why? More the blessings and benfits God gives, it is God himself who is our great reward. That's why David start this Psalm with God, you are my God

When you have a revelation of the beautfy of God's God-ness, seeking God will become your number 1.

When knowing God becomes your one thingthe rest of life will fall into place.