Psalm 27:4 Focused

Psalm 27:4 New International Version (NIV)

4 One thing I ask from the Lord,

this only do I seek:

that I may dwell in the house of the Lord

all the days of my life,

to gaze on the beauty of the Lord

and to seek him in his temple.

“No divided attention,” is how one commentator described David’s words in this psalm. This psalm describes single-minded, focused attention and dedication to one goal. One might even describe it as an obsession. As a young man, I remember how I dedicated my time, efforts, and attention to winning a state championship in wrestling. From the end of my junior season until the state finals my senior year it was all I thought of. I would wake up at 4:00 am and run for miles. During the day I’d walk the halls visualizing my technique. If I finished my work early enough my teachers would let me out of class to run on the track or into the gym to lift weights. After school, I would train for an hour and a half with the JV team, Then two and a half hours with the varsity, and finish up with an hour and a half training session with my coaches. At that point in time, I could have sung a psalm just like David’s but mine would have been about wrestling. A state championship is not a bad goal but by itself, it lacks eternal significance. In fact, I no longer even have the medal.

Today marks 21 years since I won my state title. I remember the exact day because it happens to be my birthday. Looking back on the focus I had for wrestling that year I pray that the Lord will continue to work on my heart so that I can dedicate that much of myself in service to Christ. For a year I gave wrestling my first fruits. I gave it everything I had. At the time I was a Christian, I was saved and I did use my success in wrestling as a vehicle to share the Gospel. But my progress was still stifled by selfish ambitions. In my quest for success in wrestling, there were many times when God played second fiddle. If anyone had asked I would have told them that I was focused on Christ but my actions would have said otherwise.

I continued wrestling after high school and when I won I was super thankful and gave the glory to God. But when I lost, I was a spoiled sport. My junior year in college, I dropped a close match in the national finals and ended up taking 2nd place. This was extremely disappointing because I had won the tournament the previous year. I was so upset, after the tournament I threw the trophy on the ground outside of the gym and left it. Not only was I being a brat, but I was also littering. As we were loading back on the van to ride back to the hotel one of my teammates brought the trophy back to me. He said, “here, you dropped this.” My first instinct was to fuss at him but the Lord tugged on my heart and showed me how much of a booger I was being. In this instance, it became abundantly clear that I was in it for my own glory, not God’s. I was focused but not on the right thing.

The next year, my senior year, I went into the tournament ranked 1st. But after a series of misfortunate events I ended up losing in the semi-finals. Then to make matters worse, I lost in the consolation finals and finished 4th. I retreated back to my hotel room and didn’t want to speak to anyone. I was devastated and just wanted to be alone. As I was getting ready to go to sleep, people kept coming into my room. Not just my teammates but athletes from other teams. I noticed many of them were hurting just as much as I was. It was at that moment that God revealed to me that my focus was misdirected. Of course, I was not supposed to be happy about losing but the tournament was not meant to be my main focus.

I started to share the Gospel with the athletes that came into my room. I certainly must have been led by the Holy Spirit because I’m typically not the outgoing type. When it was all said and done I was at peace. I was able to stop focusing on myself and my attention shifted to the needs of others. Once that happened I was really able to relate to David’s words in the psalm.

As we examine the words of the psalm, if we are being honest how would you fill in the blanks?

Psalm 27:4 New International Version (NIV)

4 One thing I ask ________,

this only do I seek:

that I may __________________

all the days of my life,

to gaze ___________________

and to seek _____________.

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