This One Thing
Do you have something, one thing, you are really good at?
I have a friend who is an amazing homemaker. She knows each of her kid’s favorite snacks and prepares to have them ready. And although those same three kiddos are now grown and out of her house, she hasn’t stopped being their amazing Mom. When one comes into town, she prepares her home for welcoming. She has snacks ready for her son and his spouse. The pantry is full and her heart is fuller. Whether it is Easter time or her favorite, fall; her home reflects it perfectly. Not prestigiously. Not pretentiously. Perfectly. She has her favorite homemade drawings from when her kids were growing up displayed. The picture frames around her house are filled with her most precious memories of that same season in years gone by. The smells of the scented candles and the evening’s supper fill her home with love. You may think it’s not that important. That is, until you step into her house during the month of November. Then, you get it. And simply experiencing it, you want to run home and replicate the scene in your own home, somehow. She does homemaking well.
I have a cousin who is an artist. Even when we were growing up, she was always a bit eccentric, outside of the box, but in the coolest way possible. She inadvertently started trends with clothing, language, and style. She wasn’t necessarily trying to, she was just being herself, and others followed. I think she was an artist long before she ever picked up a brush. But, then, she did pick up a brush. Then, clay. Then, shrinkable plastic. She is flat out amazing. Her work is flat out amazing. And deep. I am not sure that I can relate to all of her artwork. I am fairly certain I don’t “get” all of it. But, I will tell you this; she is an artist in the truest sense of the word. She has spent over a decade in professional schooling mastering her art. She has traveled to places in the world I have never been, and may never go, to further craft her art. She has taught at multiple universities to share her love for art and to open other’s minds to their own art. She does art well.
When thinking about myself, I am a bit stumped. I heard one of my parents describe me once saying “she wasn’t necessarily the best at any one thing, she was just always pretty good at everything.” I don’t type that to sound prideful. I share it with you only to make my point. I guess I haven’t ever been quite sure at what my “one thing” is. I was in the honor’s choir back in the day. But, I didn’t make it ‘til my junior year and even then, they wisely never handed me a microphone for a solo. I was always in honors classes, but was totally lazy never the honor role type of student. I mean, I’m pretty smart, but I didn’t earn any scholarships or invent anything, ever. Sports were a pretty big deal for a good portion of my life. I lettered varsity in three sports in high school. Almost played one of those sports on a full scholarship in college, but tore the ligaments in my ankle instead. I would like to think that wasn’t my “one thing” since I haven’t done it competitively in over a decade. Hmmm…I am good with people. I love to talk. I think I make most people feel comfortable in social situations. Yes, this is something I am pretty good at. But, could talking really be my one thing? And yes, I obviously enjoy writing. But, to me, my writing is simply me talking with a keyboard instead of my voice box. I am capable at being good at it, yet haven’t ever picked up a book explaining how to become great at. In fact, reading a book like that sounds about as much fun as cleaning my toilets. Which, by the way, is absolutely not my one thing. But, that may just be laziness rearing its ugly, yet all too familiar head again.
The apostle Paul left no room for discussion about this issue. In his letter to the church at Philipi, he made it pretty clear.
“Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it (the “it” is mentioned in verse 10, “to know Christ, the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings”). But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14
It is clear. The only “one thing” that matters is the call of God. Everything else isn’t worth it.
Last spring, I was inspired by a TV show called “Secret Millionaire”. Have you seen it? The entire premise of the show is that millionaires disguise themselves as “normal” people doing a documentary on volunteering. They are dropped off in a very poor area and are sent out to find people who are living their lives, truly trying to help others. Some people are trying to keep kids of the streets, or pregnant mothers from having abortions, or simply feeding and loving those many people out there who have no place to call home. The secret millionaire spends a week living with these people, getting to know them and then at the culmination of the show, reveals themselves to be a millionaire and then proceeds to write checks more than my husband makes in a year to donate to these very worthy causes. The show is really amazing. It is about people truly getting out there and actually helping other people.
I am ashamed that one of my first thoughts when I saw this show was, “Well, sure, if I had millions of dollars, I would love to be able to do that for people.” Then, about a milli-second later, God reminded me of Mark 12:41-44. “Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything–all she had to live on.”
That was the sound of love God’s loving 2×4 to my head.
This really got me thinking. I mean, like, I actually lost sleep over it. One question kept running around in my mind…
“What am I actually doing for other people?”
I mean, yes, I am obeying God’s call on my life to be a wife and mother. Yes, we sacrifice a lot so that these children are raised by their mother. And yes, I feel very strongly about this role in my home. But, what about outside of my home? Ok, I donate quite a bit of clothing and toys to the Christian Community Storehouse in our area…but let’s be honest, isn’t that just stuff I don’t want anyway? Yes, we give money to my best friend who is a missionary in Mexico…but have I ever gone there to serve in her ministry? No.
So…really, what am I doing for other people?
This train of thought and weighty burden led me to celebrate my birthday a little differently last year. And the simple act of blessing others made it singlehandedly one of the best days of my life. And it wasn’t about me at all. Why couldn’t I do that more than just my birthday? What’s stopping me?
It turns out that a couple more spinal fluid leaks stopped me physically. But, then I got the heart of the matter and realized it was pride. I can’t actually go do the thing myself, so I won’t share my heart about it to anyone so that they can go do it either. Man, I’m a big ol’ fool sometimes.
The second thing that I was so hung up on was all about what to name this thing? God kept running the number ONE around in my head over and over. I knew He was clearly telling me that I could give ONE percent of my income, ONE time a month, and for ONE hour go out and spread the love of the only ONE who can truly love these lost people around us. But, Bono had already stolen the whole “ONE” idea and I am assuming He doesn’t want to jump on board with my idea to share Jesus.
So, here we are months after God clearly laid this on my heart and, once again, I received another Holy Spirit nudge to get the word out. I knew God wanted me to do this, but I’ve been focusing so much on my medical drama and my writing that this ONE thing, took a back burner. Then two more things happened…a friend sent me an amazing idea for celebrating Advent. Instead of only opening the little wooden boxes on my advent calendar and reading something about Jesus – get out there and RAK someone. Each day of advent, go out and commit a Random Act of Kindness (RAK) and let people know that Jesus is the Reason for this season. I loved it! But, I loved it for the whole year round. And then, in true God fashion, He arranged for our church to have a guest speaker this weekend. This was the SAME pastor that had preached last year about “this one thing I do”. Hearing His voice immediately reminded me of the last sermon he gave about doing our “one thing” for Jesus.
So, aside from God actually yelling “DO IT NOW!”, He has confirmed that this is the time. And friend, I will obey this time.
One commentary (by David Guzik) put it this way – “Paul told us in the verses above that we just have to commit to God’s will – not our own. Paul was focused on one thing, and would not let those things which are behind distract him from it. The one thing was the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. What is the prize Paul speaks of? The prize is the upward call of God. The prize is the call itself, not the benefits that come from the call or any other thing. The prize is being able to run the race at all, working with God as a partner to do the work of His kingdom. As everything else, this upward call of God is only in Christ Jesus. The legalists might say they followed the upward call of God, but they certainly didn’t do it in Christ Jesus, they did it in the efforts of their own flesh.”
There are plenty of people out there doing “good”. I am happy about that. But, I want there to be plenty more people doing good in the name of Jesus.
Guzik also noted the fact that “When Spain led the world (in the 15th century), their coins reflected their national arrogance and were inscribed Ne Plus Ultra which meant “Nothing Further” – meaning that Spain was the ultimate in all the world. After the discovery of the New World, they realized that they were not the “end of the world” – they changed the inscription on their coinage to Plus Ultra – meaning “More Beyond.” Which motto better expresses your Christian life – “Nothing Further” or “More Beyond”?”
So, friend, I guess my question for you is…are you in?
Do you have a heart to truly get out there and physically share Jesus’ love with others. No agenda. No political debates. No writing it off your tax return. Just loving on God’s people – outside of your church walls.
Let’s run this race together. But, let’s not just run, let’s finish well. Let’s win this thing for Jesus’ Name. Another commentary by Chuck Smith noted that when thinking of a race, there is none greater that the Boston Marathon. As far as the people who compete in the race, like a church, there are many different kinds. “Many have no intention of winning the race. Many have no intention of even finishing the race. Some only plan to run a few miles then drop out and put on the shirt that says, “I ran in the Boston Marathon.” Some have as their goal just to finish the race, if they are an hour behind the winner, they don’t mind, they only want to say that they finished the race. There are others who are determined to win the race.”
Smith says, “We have to do just like Paul says and forget what is behind. All our earthly accomplishments. All of our personal goals as are trash, there is nothing of real value can come to us by accomplishing them. The emptiest moment in a person’s life comes the moment after he has accomplished the goals that he had set that he thought would bring him great satisfaction. We have only one life, it will soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.”
Now, friend, I am not suggesting that we all sell our homes and quit our jobs. I believe God wants us to be wise with the resources He has given us. But, we have to start somewhere. We live in the most blessed nation in the world. It is time that we start making sure each of God’s children here see His blessings.
So, what now?
Well, now we plan. We start with making a commitment to give ONE percent of our income, ONE time a month, and give ONE hour to God by sharing the love of the ONE who saved us.
I can’t figure it all out for you, but I can help you get started. For instance, some of my best girlfriends and I are planning a day of spreading Jesus’ love. Instead of doing the traditional “cookie exchange” this year and having a brunch together, we have arranged to all contribute some cash and spend the morning driving around the poorer parts of our area, and instead of thinking of it as random acts of kindness, we will think of it is random acts of Jesus! We will be handing out a piece of paper to everyone that makes it clear we are not just “nice people” but we are followers of Jesus. We love them and so does He!
You can start now, too! Change your perspective about what this holiday season means to you.
Ornament exchanges are fun. Work Christmas parties are sort of fun. Ugly sweater parties are even more fun. But, instead, let’s be the hands and feet of Jesus this holiday season.
And don’t stop there! Make this commitment with us.
“This one thing” can happen every month of every year – if you will make it happen.
I want to begin a community of believers that are being purposeful about getting out there and sharing His love. So…join this facebook group and spread the word. That is the beauty of this idea – it can be as big as YOU want it to be. We don’t have to do it all together, but we can all support each other while we are doing it. If you want some ideas, read my birthday blog and see all the things I did that day. Be creative. Share your great ideas! But, most of all – just get out there and do “this one thing”.
And all God’s children said…