In a movie from the 1980’s entitled, “City Slickers”, an old cowhand by the name of Curly encourages Billy Crystal (the male lead in the movie) to focus on one main thing in his life. The challenge that Curly gives to Billy Crystal is a challenge that we also find in the pages of Holy Scripture. In fact, we read in Paul’s epistle to the Philippians beginning in verse 13 of chapter 3, “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus”, (v. 13,14 NASB).
I was reminded recently on our mission trip to the Philippines of the importance of having a singular focus. When we first arrived in the Philippines I was housed in the group cabin with the other four men from our church. After having arrived on Friday afternoon at Word a Life we got up as a group on Saturday morning and went down to work on building benches. I was involved with this process throughout the morning but we didn’t have quite enough work to keep everyone busy. It was quite hot at the time and I was getting quite tired. I decided that it would be better for me to take the afternoon to prepare for the ministry of the Word that was going to take place on Sunday morning at Hillside Christian Church. I was quite content to be with our men and stay in the cabin with them. It seemed to be a good place to be though there was no quiet space from which I could prepare for my preaching and teaching ministry.
Later in the afternoon our guide Rolley invited me on an adventure with some of our other men from our church. The adventure involved a hike of some distance and as we we’re walking up particular hill still in the Word a Life complex I walked by a cabin that had my name on the door. I was surprised and asked Rolley what that was about and he said that I had a private housing that was set aside for me as one of the guest lecturers. My first thought after the adventure was that it would be best for me to stay with our men in the group cabin. I had also just finished unpacking my suitcases. But I decided to go and check out the private housing arrangement anyway. As I was there considering my options I again thought it would be best for me to stay with the men. Then I remembered my mission trip to India in February 2008 where I was away from the main body of students and activities that were going on in the college setting. I remembered that it was very helpful for me to be in a quiet place by myself as I prepared God’s Word. God had not called me to Word of Life in the Philippines to build benches though that certainly was an important of us being there. God had called me for the one purpose of ministering His Word. I decided that I would move over to the private cabin, the hot water heater for the shower was a very helpful element in making that decision as well.
This decision to stay in the private housing gave me the opportunity to focus on the “one thing” that I was supposed to be doing, that one thing being the teaching and preaching of God’s Word. Just as in February, 2008 God allowed me to have a quiet place and the quiet time that I needed to prepare my heart to share God’s Word with various groups and ministries that we ministered to. I believe God blessed and used my ministry because I focused on the one thing He had called me there to do. I’m reminded of the counsel that Vance Havner (a preacher of another generation) received from Dr. R. A. Torrey when he was a young man. Torrey said, ‘Young man, make up your mind on one thing and stick to it’. In Vance Havner’s Devotional Treasury he comments about this counsel when he writes “The Christian life should be like a sword with one point, not a broom ending in many straws. Such a single purpose forgets the past, and reaches towards the future, and presses on. There is no time or place for side issues, diversions to the right or to the left. There is no place for hands on the plow with eyes looking back. Paul was a one- track man, but you can go a long way on one track!” I praise the Lord for the one thing He has equipped me to do and I’m very grateful that God gave me the opportunity once again to do that one thing in the Philippines. All praise to our great Savior who leads our every step when we yield our lives in allegiance to the Lord Jesus Christ.
In the King’s Service,