The One True Thing

The One True Thing

True worth isn't a black dressI pulled out a celebrity-gossip magazine that happened to be in my seat pocket on a flight to Denver. You know the type: oh-my-gosh, The Perfect Little Black Dress of the Season—or—Three Ways Your Partner Might Be Cheating! These kinds of articles are the taunt of today’s Western culture.

By the time the plane landed, I was made to feel thoroughly undersexed, unsophisticated, and deserving of costly beauty products. The true underlying message? —If you aren’t really working on being one of the beautiful people, you’ll end up alone.

True beauty isn't found in cosmeticsModern culture promises us the moon with superlatives: perfect skin in three applications or idyllic sleep with the right kind of mattress. We hope to find ecstasy in a perfume, identity in an expensive car, and attitude in owning the latest gadget. These things make us feel more attractive, momentarily. We turn a head or two.

But attention doesn’t satisfy, because it only parades as love. Many sacred hours are wasted with this kind of distraction. It’s a pretext, a facade, masking our fundamental need for relationship.

Loneliness is a true feelingLoneliness seems like life’s albatross. We are required to hold all relationships loosely. Beloved grandparents and parents fade in their vitality and pass away. Colleges and careers take us away from extended family. We lose our original sense of community, the familiarity of a hometown. Marriage has empty spaces with its own unique set of vulnerabilities. Children grow up and find their own lives, as they should. Even lifelong friendships can change overtime or be lost unexpectedly. Single, divorced, or widowed people may think loneliness is their singular struggle, but the experience is common to most everyone I know.

Dogs give true loveThrough good times and hard seasons, loneliness still hovers. We seek out a diary, a dog, or an online friend, looking for solace in some kind of connection.

But down deep, the true connection we really need is with God…

Have we simply associated with God through mere religious traditions? Is our faith just an intellectual theology, a moral code, or a social gospel? If that’s it—we’ve settled for far too little.

A.W. Tozer wrote in The Pursuit of God, that…

“Everything is made to center upon the initial act of ‘accepting’ Christ, and we are not expected thereafter to crave any further revelation of God to our souls. We have been snared in the coils of a spurious logic which insists that if we have found Him, we need no more seek Him…

“I want deliberately to encourage (a) mighty longing after God…The stiff and wooden quality about our religious lives is a result of our lack of holy desire…Programs, methods, organizations and a world of nervous activities occupy time and attention but can never satisfy the longing of the heart.”[i]

You are designed to do life with God, not alone. And when you experience that reality, the fear of loneliness fades.

True love goes awayFor example, when my husband had to spend extended time in Africa the past few years, it felt like more than I could bear. I went with him sometimes, but there were many weeks and months apart. It gave me a new empathy for military families.

I told God about my loneliness and asked Him for His take on it. The word, “respite,” came to mind. At first I thought it wasn’t a word, erroneously placing the accent on the second syllable—re-SPITE. Funny how the mind goes negative when you’re not in a good place.

Rest is being true to selfSoon after, I realized my mistake. “RES-pite” is a word, and it means “an interval of rest.” What was God saying to me?

In general, my husband is a larger-than-life personality who ups the mix in any situation! But if I was going to write my next book, I needed space and long quiet days. God had purposes for me in our time apart. And most astonishingly, He altered my understanding with a single word!

You can try this experiment.

True relationship with GodIdentify an area of your life where you feel discontent, anxious or even completely hopeless. Put it into words. Even better, write it down. Then ask God to speak a single word or a short phrase that will help you understand His perspective on that issue.

He wants a point of contact. He’ll work with you. It’s an opportunity for you to practice listening for God’s voice.

Don’t discount the first thing that comes to mind. But also don’t worry if it takes a few days, a week, or longer. Wait and watch for it. If it’s a strange word, look it up in the dictionary to expand its meaning. And see if the God who has numbered the very hairs of your head, gives you a handle on that stuck or broken place in your life.

We must know Him. Would you say that you do?


[i] A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God, pgs. 16-17.