Psalm 27:4 says, “One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I will seek.” In his new book, The One True Thing, Howard Baker addresses the process of seeking that “one thing.” Baker poses the question: “What is the worth of your lifelong devotion?” And while the answer may seem obvious, all Christians wrestle with the ability to surrender ourselves and our possessions in order to seek what really matters—a life totally submitted to the will of God.
As an example, Baker tells the story of Julian of Norwich, a 14th century anchoress who devoted her life to seeking the Lord from the confines of a permanently enclosed cell attached to the church. There, her vocation became a “living death” of self denial, intercessory prayer, and fasting. She forsook the pleasures of this world to focus entirely on God’s goodness and her personal relationship with Him.
While the majority of Christians may not possess Julian’s strength to deny self, and whereas most will not be called to the solitary existence she chose, still, every believer is asked to deny self in some way to follow where Christ leads. And that isn’t as easy as it sounds. Baker says, “While we dabble on the surfaces of outward appearance, God in the flesh drills deeply to look upon the heart.” It isn’t about simply appearing to do the right things. We must desire a relationship with God that is sincerely marked by total surrender.
In order to know God in His fullness and to have a life marked by total surrender, we must examine both our motives and the things we are seeking, for those are what determine the choices we make and the values we embrace. And then we must ask; “Is God worthy of my lifelong devotion?” If the answer is yes, then we must surrender every aspect of our life to His lordship.
Baker says, “Disciplines are ways to help us ‘keep in step’ with Jesus, casting all our care upon Him so that He is pulling the weight of life for us.” We simply need to rethink the advantages of discipline. Rather than seeing it as a burden or a bother, we should see it as the very thing that will lead to peace, joy, and an abundant life in Christ.
The One True Thing is a good book for anyone who is earnestly seeking to live a life of sincere devotion to the Lord. It invites the reader to forsake whatever stands in the way of a fulfilled life in Christ—to be willing to loose everything to gain “the one true thing.”
Baker has a master’s degree in theology from Dallas Theological Seminary and teaches Christian Formation at Fuller Seminary Colorado and at Denver Seminary, where he also serves as the campus chaplain. He is the author of Soul Keeping and co-author of Transformation of a Man’s Heart. – Nancy K. Brown, Christian Book Previews.com
Howard Baker says we all long for a single devotion. Yet most often, our lives are fragmented, torn between competing desires, demands, and responsibilities. As a way to answer our deep need, we throw ourselves into work or activities or addictions. But devotion to a job, to a possession, or even to a person is not worthy of the human heart, says Baker.
He leads us toward an earnest pursuit of “the one true thing” that simplifies and brings all the scattered pieces of our lives into focus. In The One True Thing, Howard Baker says that every human yearning at its core is a desire for God, and God is calling out to us through our daily scrambles to control life. The pursuit of God is the one true thing that simplifies and integrates all other things. In this small book that addresses the largest of themes, the author uses great writers of the past and biblical stories to guide us through three stages of pursuing God: seeking, choosing, and ultimately valuing Him above all else.