One Thing

Psalm 27

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.   [New Living Translation]

‘One thing’ prays the psalmist.

‘One thing I do,’ says Paul (Philippians 3).

‘Only one thing is needed,’ says Jesus to Martha (Luke 10).

‘You lack one thing,’ says Jesus to the rich young man (Mark 10). 

‘I know one thing,’ says the blind man whom Jesus has healed (John 9).

Soren Kierkegaard once wrote a whole book on this theme: Purity of Heart is to Will One Thing.  In it he forcefully challenges his readers to a costly abandonment of the security of the old.  He uses the analogy of a swimmer.  Some swimmers long to always keep one foot on the bottom.  Some Christians live that way also, preferring security to deep faith.  Kierkegaard seeks to draw out disciples into water ’70,000 fathoms deep’ where life does not depend upon half-measures but upon a single-minded faith.

The opposite of faith is not doubt but fear.  In Mark 5.36, Jesus tells Jairus, ‘Do not fear, only believe.’  Jesus’ words are a neat summary of this Psalm.  In the presence of dire threats to life (v.2,3,12) the psalmist dares to believe, to have confidence in his God.  ‘Salvation’ in this psalm (v.1,9) means life, especially when death or suffering threatens.  The psalmist believes one thing; God can and will save!

Note how the psalm forms statements of faith around the messy middle where life sometimes is threatening and dangerous.

1The Lord is my light and my salvation—
    so why should I be afraid?
Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger,
    so why should I tremble?

14 Wait patiently for the Lord.
    Be brave and courageous.
    Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.     

The psalmist calls us to anchor our lives entirely in God.  Then, no matter how deep the waters, we can live in hope and peace, free from anxiety.

Life Doesn't Frighten Me

Shadows on the wall
Noises down the hall
Life doesn't frighten me at all

Bad dogs barking loud
Big ghosts in a cloud
Life doesn't frighten me at all

Mean old Mother Goose
Lions on the loose
They don't frighten me at all

Dragons breathing flame
On my counterpane
That doesn't frighten me at all.

I go boo
Make them shoo
I make fun
Way they run
I won't cry
So they fly
I just smile
They go wild

Life doesn't frighten me at all.

Tough guys fight
All alone at night
Life doesn't frighten me at all.

Panthers in the park
Strangers in the dark
No, they don't frighten me at all.

That new classroom where
Boys all pull my hair
(Kissy little girls
With their hair in curls)
They don't frighten me at all.

Don't show me frogs and snakes
And listen for my scream,
If I'm afraid at all
It's only in my dreams.

I've got a magic charm
That I keep up my sleeve
I can walk the ocean floor
And never have to breathe.

Life doesn't frighten me at all
Not at all
Not at all.

Life doesn't frighten me at all.              [Maya Angelou]