What is Your “One Thing”?

One thing. If you could have just one thing in your life—one desire granted—what would it be?

That sounds like a question that might come from the old “find a genie in a lamp” scenario (or the related state of “my kids just watched Aladdin for the umpteenth time, and long after most of my memory is useless to me, a funny blue man singing ‘A Friend Like Me’ will be seared into my brain”).

But it doesn’t. The question actually comes from the Bible. In Psalm 27:4, David writes, “One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek….” How do you think most people would finish that request? How would you? Would you ask for money? Health? Security? A wonderful family? Great accomplishments?

All of those things are attractive for one reason or another. But look at how David chooses to finish:

…that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.


If you’re being honest with yourself, what’s your reaction to what David writes? Does that sound like something you’d immediately get behind? Or does it strike you more as someone who figures he’s writing for religious people, so of course he’s going to say the “spiritual” thing?

I have to admit, my own reaction to David’s words is similar to what I think would happen if I somehow won $25,000. I’d be thinking of all the fun things I could spend it on—dream vacation, car, new clothes, whatever. And then that little voice, the one I’ve been trying to ignore, would cut through the euphoria to say, “You know, you need to think about your kids’ college or paying down your mortgage.” And so I’d probably do the “responsible” thing, knowing it was the right choice to make, but not being all that excited about it. Likewise, I know I should want to dwell with the Lord, to seek his beauty and glory, but in the back of my I still have this notion that, in doing so, I’m somehow going to settle.

Of course, that assumes that my typical way of thinking about all this is accurate. But what if the problem isn’t that that David’s choice lacks excitement or satisfaction, but that my own perspective of what will ultimately deliver those things is somehow skewed? What if David isn’t simply trying to sound spiritual and he’s actually on to something?

If that’s the case, then David’s point is that being with the Lord isn’t settling at all. Pursuing him isn’t choosing the spiritual but oh-so-boring life. No, it’s actually to experience what you’ve always been looking for, what you’ve really been longing for when you’ve gone after any one of a thousand different pleasures in life, from closing that big deal to hearing your kids laugh. So much so, in fact, that if you could simply have one thing in life, well of course you’d want to choose this!

As I’ve said, that’s not my first approach. But when I take a step back I find that it makes a whole lot of sense. After all, when have you bought/achieved/received/found/(insert other verb here) any earthly thing—and I mean anything—that gave you the sense that you’d finally found what you need to be lastingly content? That’s not at all to say that you haven’t experienced good things in your life. You have. Many of us have experienced a constant barrage of blessings coming in one form or another. But we still haven’t found what we’re looking for (and yes, that is a U2 reference).

And on the other hand, what or who is likely to be the answer to this predicament? Of all the options, doesn’t it make sense to bet on the one who is the source of all truth, beauty, and goodness? In the words of C. S. Lewis, “God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing” (Mere Christianity).

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