In my memory, it is Christmas. We are at my grandmother and aunt's house in upstate NY. I am in the upstairs bedroom after having been tucked in for the night. My brother sleeps in the bed next to mine. It is Christmas Eve. As our family tradition was, we had already opened our presents and were now attempting to settle down for the night. On my wrist, one of my most cherished gifts that year. An analogue watch! I press it to my ear and the "tick, tick" of the second hand moving brought such simple delight! I remember falling asleep to that sound with such a sense of contentment and happiness!
I smile as such memories. They bring back the simple joys of childhood and the easy delights of life.
I cringe a little when I consider how I don't take time and effort to enjoy those moments with my children when they come to me all excited about something so simple. In my growth and maturity, sometimes I forget to take time and cherish these moments.
Why does this memory surface in my mind this morning?
It comes to mind because of my musings over these words…
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.
I remember as a child asking that question of one another…if your house is on fire and you could save one thing, what would it be? (Excluding people and pets)
I remember wrestling with that question as a child. What thing was most valuable and important to me. I had so many things I wanted and didn’t want to live without. I remember what it felt like to value and cherish something so simple, as the ticking of that analogue watch, on that delightful Christmas Eve. I can remember the moment, hear the sound of that watch, and can even relive some of the sense of happiness and delight I felt in that moment. It fills me with a sense of nostalgia to remember it.
And it sparks in me the consideration of that question…what one thing would I save?
It provokes to thoughtfulness, what is of most value?
That Christmas Eve, I probably would have said that watch.
At different points in my childhood, the answer is likely to have changed.
As I have gotten older, the answer has gotten much simpler and easier to answer.
But the dilemma stands out in my mind because I think it is one we face, not just in times of crisis, but in daily moments.
What is the "one thing" that is most valuable and important?
What do I cherish above all else?
What do I sacrifice time and energy for?
What do I give my money and resources to?
What "one thing" do I think I cannot live without?
What "one thing" holds importance to me above all else that is makes the list of one that would be saved in event of disaster?
This one thing; the answer to that question reveals more than we willingly confess, even to ourselves, sometimes. It reveals, at the core, what we worship.
Abba, what "one thing" do I truly cherish the most? What is most important to me in this life? What do I seek after, fight for, cling to, passionately pursue at the expense of other things? Honestly, it is not material things. Not really. Sure, I love my technology and electronics (when they work). And if I had to save one item from a burning house, it would be my iPad because it contains my access to your Word, my journal, all my files and notes representing years of study and growing. It is the one tool that would grant me access to things that hold great value to me. I would grieve the loss of other things but not half as much as I would grieve losing access to your word and my journal, which represents my many hours spent with you in prayer.
And yet, if I failed to obtain it, I would not be destroyed. No. Because, the one thing I cherish most, that I value above all else, cannot be destroyed by fire.
Abba, you are indestructible.
You, my great and almighty God, hold that cherished number one spot in my life. This is why I grieve so deeply when other passions and desires creep in and claim that place that is rightly reserved for you. Possessions, material things may not hold that spot, no. But often, approval, affirmation, comfort, control, and other such desires do threaten to claim that spot in my heart, in our hearts and lives. They vie for control and appeal for our affections. Oh wretched man, why do such desires provoke such a war in our inner being?
I pray for the same devotion of David in this verse. I pray for desire and commitment to seek ONLY to dwell in YOUR house forever, to be contented with gazing upon your beauty all the days of my life, and to rest in the wisdom and knowledge that comes from the King of the Universe! I want to be so enraptured by your beauty, that my desire for it overshadows every other desire and quells the conflict within with a simple "shush." I want to be so enthralled that there is a simple forgetfulness that anything else even exists!
Abba, so fill my heart…so fill OUR hearts as your church to be enthralled and satisfied in your presence, beauty, and wisdom.
Let this be our "one thing."
Let us pursue with relentless abandon.
And may we fall to sleep nightly to the comforting "tick" of your presence within, a smile on our face, and joy in our heart at having in our being the "one thing" we can never lose.