That one thing
The One Thing That DefinesAlmost every great man, secular or spiritual, was defined by one particular thing – great leadership, a great idea or vision, an overarching task or calling, a discovery or invention, a company they founded and built, a great handicap that was overcome, etc. That one thing defined who they were and what they accomplished.
Steve Jobs will always be associated with Apple, the company he founded and led. Winston Churchill will always be defined by his leadership of Britain in one of its darkest days. Mahatma Ghandi will forever be revered for his struggle for Indian independence. Mother Theresa will always be remembered for her love and compassion for the poor and sick people of Calcutta.
Each in their own time saw a great need or stumbled upon a great idea and gave themselves fully and entirely to that one thing, making it their own, allowing themselves to be consumed by it.
In the Bible, we see the same thing: every man of God was also defined by that one thing. Abraham with the Promised Land, Moses with the exodus, Nehemiah with rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, David with passion for God, Jesus with the Cross, Peter with the church and Paul with serving God.
And in more recent times, Catherine Khulman is associated with miracle services, Billy Graham with evangelism, Ravi Zacharias with Christian apologetics, and Daniel Ho with the Dream Centre.
Hear again David’s passion for God:
4 One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: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 to inquire in his temple. [Ps 27:4]
10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained. [Phil 3: 10-16]
I made up my mind to pay attention to only one thing… Jesus Christ and his death on the cross. [1 Co 2:2]
All the Men & Women of God Defined By That One Thing
Each one was called, anointed and given authority by God for a single overriding purpose that they were set apart by God to accomplish:
10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. [Eph 2:10]
And, when that one thing, that calling and purpose became clear to them, each one pursued it with single-minded devotion and commitment. They gave their whole lives to it and it defined their journey, the nature of their relationship with God, how they reacted to the vicissitudes of life, and the choices they made. When they are remembered or honoured, they are remembered or honoured for that one thing.
The Apostle Paul, for example, was a man driven by that one thing – knowing Christ and serving Him with every breath, with every heartbeat.
16 … I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! [1 Cor 9:16]
And everything he did, everything he endured, everything he spoke and wrote was about this one thing. He endured so much pain, deprivation and hardship for the sake of the Gospel because He did not want to be found wanting in that one thing.
Jesus also spoke about the one thing
21 … And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. [Mk 10:21-22]
Jesus told the rich young ruler that that one thing was missing in his life, that he had allowed many things to get in the way of that one thing, that when he found that one thing, the emptiness inside of him that drove Him to Jesus would be filled and the restlessness he felt would be stilled.
Likewise, He told Martha that she was preoccupied with all the wrong things, that she was missing out on that one thing that really matters to God and to her own fulfilment.
41 … But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” [Lk 10:41-42]
Discovering that one thing
There is that one thing that awaits every person. And when that one thing meets the man or woman, history happens, the Kingdom advances and God is glorified.
Each and every person needs to discover what that one thing is for his or her own life, that one thing that God created him for. In life, there are many things that we can do well and are good at but only that one thing will satisfy and fulfil that inner restlessness. It’s like our spirit yearns within us to fulfil God’s purpose and it won’t allow us to settle for anything less than that.
Are you at peace with what you are doing right now, at where you are at this point of your life? Or is there a restlessness within that won’t be calmed by success or achievement or fame or fortune? In the quiet moments, does your inner being cry out for something greater, something more profound?
As St Augustine of Hippo remarked, God has made us for Himself and our hearts will always be restless until it rests in Him [and in His purpose]. There’s no running away from it or filling it with substitutes, for no one and nothing can ever fill that purpose but God Himself.
24 So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. 25 When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. 26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”
But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” 27 The man asked him, “What is your name?” “Jacob,” he answered. 28 Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.”
There are no formulas for discovering that one thing, no easy ways. That one thing is too profound to lend itself to trite formulas or clever methods. It has to be wrestled from the heart of God through prayer and lonely vigils. Only the one who wrestles his purpose from God’s heart with fear and trembling will know with certainty, and will treasure and honour that one thing that has been revealed to him and see it through to the very end no matter what it costs.
13–14 “When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. “Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.” [Jer 29:13-14]
7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. [Matt 7:7-8]
That one thing is the only thing worth living for, worth pursuing, worth giving everything for….
[Dennis Ignatius | Kuala Lumpur | 7th March 2017]