Friday, February 15, 2008

Psalm 27: What is Your One Thing?

"One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek; 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 seek him in his temple.) (v.4)

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's written by a man who's 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, 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's the "one thing" that your heart craves? What's the "one thing" that you think would change your life? What's the "one thing" that you look to for satisfaction, contentment, or peace? What's the "one thing" that you mourn that you've had to live without? What's the "one thing" that fills your day-dreams and commands your sleepy meditations? What's your one thing?

The spiritual reality for many of us is that that "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 the one thing that 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's what you say to yourself when something is your "one thing," "Life only has meaning and I only have worth if I have___________ in my life." The problem is that the "one thing" catalog is virtually endless:

1. Power: Life only has meaning/I only have worth, if I have power and influence
over others.
2. Approval: If I'm loved and respected by________.
3. Comfort: If I have this kind of pleasure/experience.
4. Image: If I have a certain look or body image.
5. Control: If I'm able to have mastery over this area of my life.
6. Helping: If people are dependent on me and need me.
7. Dependence: If someone is there to keep me safe.
8. Independence: If I'm completely free of the obligation or responsibility to take
care of someone.
9. Work: If I'm highly productive and get a lot done.
10. Achievement: If I'm recognized for my accomplishments.
11. Materialism: If I've a certain level of wealth, finance, nice possessions.
12. Religion: If I'm adhering to my religion's codes and accomplished in it's
13. Individual person: If this one person is in my life and happy there and/or
happy with me.
14. Irreligious: If I am totally independent of organized religion and have a self- made morality.
15. Racial/cultural: If my race and culture are ascendant and recognized as superior.
16. Inner ring: If a particular social or professional group lets me in.
17. Family: If my children/parents are happy/happy with me.
18. Suffering: If I'm hurting or in 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's a "one thing" war being fought on the turf of your heart. You and I are only safe 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 to be the "one thing" that's the one thing that your heart craves.

Where are you looking for meaning and worth? What's the "beauty that you wish you had in your life? What's your "one thing?"

*List adapted from Hannibal Silver (Doctor of Ministry Project, Westminster Theological Seminary)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Psalm 27: Two Words You Never Want to Hear

"Do not turn your servant away in anger." (v.9b)

It is such a comfort
to me,
such a source
of hope
and strength
and daily joy.
It gives me reason
to get up in the morning
and to press on
when I am discouraged
and weak
and lonely
and afraid.
It gives me reason
to face with courage
the struggles within
and the difficulties without.
It reminds me
that I can stand
before you
as I am,
completely unafraid
and ask of you
what I have asked before
and will ask again,
Your forgiveness
and Your help.
What gives me this
What offers me this
It is this one thing.
I know for certain
that there are
two words
that I'll never hear.
I know that You will never
look me in the eye
and say to me,
"Go away!"
You will not send me
from your presence.
You will not drive me
from your grace.
You will not separate me
from your glory.
You will not eliminate me
from your promises.
You will never
send me away.
Because your anger
was borne by Another.
Because my separation
was carried by Him.
Because He was
sent away,
I will never be.
So, in weakness,
and sin,
I stand before you once more
with courage,
and joy,
because I know
that in all the
dark things that
may be whispered to me
in this dark and fallen world
there are two words I will never hear.
And so with gratitude and joy
I get up to face the day
but as I do, I do it
without fear.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Psalm 27: Sign Beauty

" gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple." (v.4c)

God has filled his world with beauty.
There is the beauty of:
the delicate orchid
the spotted leopard
the multi-hued sunset
the pillowy cloud
the golden sun
the delicious meal
the giant oak
the irridescent snake
the white-capped wave
the ribbony grain of wood
the song of a bird
endless variety of music
the flash of lightening
the shimmering scales of a fish
the new white snow
the rugged rocks of the mountain
the tender kiss
the whisper of the breeze
the green curtain of the leaves
the security of a father's voice
the tender touch of a mother's hand
the crystal display of a starry night
the percussive song of a rainy day
the green of the pasture
the blue of the sky
the black of the night
the brown of the soil
the yellow of the bee
the red of the rose
the white of the cloud.

All of the things have been painted with beauty, but it is not ultimate beauty. The beauty of the created world was never meant to be the beauty that would fill the eyes of our hearts. It was never meant to be the beauty to which we would look for satisfaction and peace. It was never meant to be the beauty that we would give ourselves to search for, live for, cry for, and die for. No, the physical glories of this created world are meant to be sign glories. The amazing beauty that surrounds us every day was designed to be sign beauty. All of the beautiful things that we see, touch, taste and hear every day, were designed to be signs that would point to the ultimate beauty that can only be found in the One who created them.

So, when you're looking at the beauty that surrounds you in the physical world that's your present home, require yourself to look beyond the signs to the stunning beauty of the God to whom each sign points. Only his beauty can give you hope, strength, and peace. Only his beauty can give you life. Don't be like the family that saved for a year to experience the glories of Disney World, packed the car in anticipation, drove hundreds of miles, and stopped at the first Disney World sign and had their vacation.

Perhaps our hearts feel empty and our souls are dissatisfied because we've tried to get from sign beauty what only ultimate beauty can give us. Look beyond the orchid, the lightening, the bird, and the leaf and see the Lord. In him you will find true beauty, the kind that really does satisfy.