THE ONE THING (Part #1)+
Today we define ourselves and our sense of worth by our busyness. In fact we are enslaved by it. We are so preoccupied with the future that we cannot trust or enjoy the moment. The media and other powerful forces in society create an atmosphere of chronic emergency, false expectations and continual needs. Thus the Spirit of God is stifled from freely flowing through us in order to renew and empower us. As a result we feel manipulated, exploited and pushed around by people who dont take us seriously and by forces outside our control. Increasingly, we experience a sense of resentment, a paralyzing feeling of disconnectedness, isolation, fragmentation, loneliness and anger. Ultimately we become depressed, lose heart and grow cynical.
What is the answer? Well, Jesus intends that we move from bowing to the many voices and demands of our age to focusing on the One Thing: Knowing him. (Phil. 3:7; Matt. 6:33; Lk. 10:41) In a world intent on seducing you and me into conformity, we will not do and experience the One Thing without a sense of desperation and the cultivation of discipline. Discipline is the flip side of discipleship. It is only through the spiritual disciplines that we become sensitive to the gentle, small voice of God and experience true spiritual life with God. (I Kin. 19:9-13) The very essence of real prayer is listening to the voice of God in an atmosphere of solitude, only made possible by creating space in our lives from the noise and pressure of the world. We have to exercise patience because developing attentiveness to the voice of God is an art form, if you please, that is learned over time. The reality of it is that we are not inclined toward solitude because being alone with ourselves and God can prove to be frightening. But cultivate it we must.
On a personal note: Over forty years ago a deep sense of desperation led me to pursue this One Thing which has been at the core of my life ever since. The other morning in my time alone with God, for example, I prayerfully meditated over John 6:35-40. Three wonderful truths emerged that may help us in our effort to pursue the One Thing, living as we do in this intensely secularized and pressurized society:
Then Jesus said, I am the bread that gives life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. But as I told you before, you have seen me and still don’t believe. The Father gives me my people. Every one of them will come to me, and I will always accept them. I came down from heaven to do what God wants me to do, not what I want to do. Here is what the One who sent me wants me to do: I must not lose even one whom God gave me, but I must raise them all on the last day. Those who see the Son and believe in him have eternal life, and I will raise them on the last day. This is what my Father wants." (CEV)
I am fulfilled because Jesus quenches my deepest thirst and hungernow and forever: I am the bread that gives life! No one who comes to me will ever be hungry. No one who has faith in me will ever be thirsty. (Jn. 6:35 CEV) Therefore I do not need to chase after the gods of this world to experience inner satisfaction.
I am accepted because Jesus allows me to come to him without fear of rejection: Everything and everyone that the Father has given me will come to me, and I won’t turn any of them away. (Jn. 6:37 CEV) Therefore I dont need to expend my life trying to prove anything to him or anyone.
I am secure because Jesus protects me from being lost: [The Father] wants to make certain that none of the ones he has given me will be lost. Instead, he wants me to raise them to life on the last day. (Jn. 6:39 CEV) Therefore I can rest in the fact that he will see me through until that Day. (Phil. 1:6)
QUESTION: Are you desperate and disciplined enough to seek the One Thing. If not, what will it take?
+ Many seed thoughts for this article are drawn from Making All Things New Henri J. M. Nouwen Harper and Row, 1981