When it comes to our walk with God, I like to think of us as cars. I wish we were like the smart self-driving cars, but that’s just giving us a little too much credit. No, we are more like the cars that are just a little out of alignment (and sometimes really out of alignment). We fix our eyes on Jesus and are on track chasing after him, but then slowly our hearts veer off and the next thing we know we’re driving over those annoyingly loud bumps on the side of the road. We focus back on Jesus, but slowly we find ourselves veering off to the bumps again, maybe this time just a little further, and the next thing we know we’re in a ditch. We are prone to distraction. Our eyes get focused on lesser (though often still good) things, and our hearts start chasing idols.
While my eyes tend to go astray, my deepest desire is to focus and follow after Jesus. But when I find my heart has wandered, Psalm 27:4 is a reminder of my heart’s desire:
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 [or meditate] in his temple.
The author, King David, reminds me of what’s involved in having a one-track heart for God. He had a focus on God, pursued God, and lingered in God’s presence.
Focus // “One thing have I asked”:
David had a single focus and passion – to be in the presence of God. That’s the one thing he asks of God and the one thing he pursues. This oneness of focus is reminiscent of truths found throughout the New Testament – that we run this race well by fixing our eyes on Jesus and Jesus alone (Hebrews 12:1-2) and that everything else is worthless compared to knowing Christ (Philippians 3:8). I am constantly challenged by this thought and continually ask myself if I have this same oneness of focus – is Jesus really the one thing I desire?
Pursuit // “that I will seek after”:
The one thing David asked of God was to know Him intimately. But, he doesn’t only ask; he also pursues this desire of his. Sometimes I find myself asking God for a deeper relationship with Him and to know Him more… and then instead of spending time with Jesus, I opt for Netflix, Instagram, my to-do list, or other distractions. In partnership with asking God for his presence, may we grow in actively seeking after Him, the desire of our hearts, taking our eyes off all the distractions, and resetting them back on Jesus.
Lingering // “dwell, gaze, inquire”:
The ESV translation of Psalm 27:4 uses the words “dwell,” “gaze,” and “inquire” (or “meditate”) to describe David’s focus and pursuit of God. These words all carry with them an idea of lengthiness. David sought to abide with God, he stared at the Lord’s beauty, and he thoughtfully reflected on his God. David pursued the Lord by l i n g e r i n g in his presence. He didn’t just check off a box saying he did his daily quiet time, prayed a rehearsed prayer, and then go off to do other things. Too often, that’s what my pursuit of God looks like – hurried and with a removed heart. In the seasons when I don’t feel connected with Jesus, it’s often because I don’t take the time to linger in His presence; I don’t take the time to realign my eyes and heart back onto Him. May we learn to stay and patiently wait on God, as the last verse of this Psalm reminds us: “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!”
The Christian life is to continually reset our eyes and hearts back onto Jesus, whether you’re just starting to veer off onto the road bumps or whether you’ve found yourself way off in a ditch. Fix your eyes on Jesus again and again. May we learn from David’s example of begging God for his presence, pursuing Him, and lingering in His presence, that we may get our hearts back on track and focused on Jesus. After all, He is beautiful and worthy. For, even when we didn’t desire Jesus, He desired us. Even when we didn’t pursue Jesus, He pursued us, even to the point of death. Even when we don’t linger in His presence, even when our hearts go off course and even when we fall in a metaphorical ditch, He lingers with us.