The one thing I ask of the Lord— the thing I seek most— is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, delighting in the Lord’s perfections and meditating in his Temple. Psalm 27:4 (NLT)
It was said of baseball Hall of Famer Ted Williams that his focus during the game was so intent that when he was at the plate, awaiting the pitch when the pitcher threw the ball, Williams could see the stitches on the ball and determine the type of pitch.
Contrast the focus of Ted Williams with some young children learning to play baseball. Their minds wander, and their attention seemingly is on everything but the game. Seemingly, the outfielders are the most prone to lose track of what is going on in the game. With minimal action coming their way, we have often seen distracted children unprepared for their big moment.
Oh, that we as Christians would be so intently focused on the heavenly prize that we could block out all other distractions. “And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” Hebrews 12:1b-2a (NIV)
The Lure of Distractions
Distractions are a part of life. They always have been. We may choose to believe that the complexities and pace of life in modern times are without parallel in history. Still, even in the most uncomplicated and slow-paced age, people have faced distractions that endeavor to hinder achieving goals and objectives.
The capability to focus on a goal and eliminate or ignore distractions is essential to accomplishing large tasks. However, identifying and selecting a worthy goal is a prerequisite to success. If you don’t know where you want to go, how will you know you have arrived?
Someone once said that “variety is the spice of life,” meaning life is more enjoyable with varied experiences and adventures. Variety may serve us well when it comes to food or other diversionary entertainment, but in other things, it can be a disaster. I am well satisfied with the one wife of my youth and grateful for the one God who loves me and gave his Son as a ransom for my salvation. We must avoid any other inclination or distraction.
By the time David wrote the 27th Psalm, he was already successful. He had experienced victory. Although David was tested in life many times, he was in a position where he could have whatever he desired.
Against a backdrop of success and triumph, some might find his request in verse four a little perplexing. “The one thing I ask of the Lord— the thing I seek most— is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, delighting in the Lord’s perfections and meditating in his Temple.” David was seemingly in the position where he could have it all, or perhaps he already did and realized that nothing he had achieved brought total fulfillment or satisfaction.
In this Psalm, David has already expressed confidence and trust in God, but he has an objective to enter and stay in the presence of the Lord. Unlike so many of us who seemingly have endless requests and desires, David focuses on one thing. Remember that the language here is poetical, and David did not neglect his responsibilities as King, father, or husband. We know that he was always praying, petitioning, or pleading his case before God, but he declares his highest aspiration is to dwell in the presence of God.
Priority Number One
When you make seeking God your number one priority, you will encounter those who will accuse you of neglecting your responsibilities or being “so heavenly-minded that you are no earthly good.” Those whose highest passion and desire is not for God have little appreciation or understanding for those who desire God above everything else.
When Mary sat at the feet of Jesus, clinging to his every word, an embittered Martha was resentful over having to perform all the preparations herself. It was not as though Martha’s task was unimportant or irrelevant under ordinary circumstances, but when Jesus is present, the possibilities are not typical. “There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:42 (NLT)
There is nothing inherently wrong with having a diversity of interests and pursuits. Still, we must be careful not to lose sight of the fundamental goal of Jesus Christ and our relationship with him. No more significant objective exists as long as we are in this life. Paul put it this way, “No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” Philippians 3:13–14 (NLT)
A Life in Focus
Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God is and what he is doing. And God isn’t pleased at being ignored. Romans 8:7–8 (MSG)
I do not want to be like the little leaguer whose mind is not focused on the game. Nor do I want to be self-absorbed to a place where God does not have first place in my life. At the end of it all, only one thing matters; did we give our best to God? King David’s one thing was to dwell in God’s house. For Mary, the one thing was to sit at Jesus’ feet and learn from him. For Paul, it was forgetting everything behind him and pressing on toward the heavenly prize. What is the one thing that you live for?