There is an old movie with Billy Crystal called City Slickers. In the movie, his character is going through a midlife crisis, and this old cowboy tells him he must discover his One Thing in life.
For the first six years of our marriage, we were not able to have children. As we walked through those difficult years of longing for a child, God reassured me over and over again of one thing, and that one thing is truly my One Thing in life, and I think it is every Christ followers’ One Thing.
It started one Sunday when we were singing an old Gaither hymn called “Because He Lives.” The line in one verse says, “How sweet to hold a newborn baby and feel the pride and joy he gives. But greater still the calm assurance, this child can face uncertain days because He lives.” The chorus continues: “Because He lives, I can face tomorrow. Because He lives, all fear is gone. Because I know He holds the future. And life is worth the living, just because He lives.”
As we sang those words, the Holy Spirit opened my heart and mind to the Truth. No matter what our circumstances, no matter whether or not we ever had a child, this child (meaning me) could face uncertain days because Jesus lives. All my fear dissipated in that moment. Much of my pain washed away and was replaced with peace. The One Thing I needed to learn and hold onto was that my life would be lived with and for God and His glory. Seeing my relationship with God grow was and is the most important thing about this life. I really think this is what Matthew 6:33 is talking about. We get so caught up with the day-to-day concerns and circumstances of life when our daily, moment-by-moment focus should be on knowing God and growing in our relationship with Him. That is seeking His kingdom first above all else.
A powerful movie on YouTube challenged me even further as it shared the testimony of a once Muslim woman who was now a follower of Christ. Those living in Muslim countries who have come to follow Christ know that their lives are in danger. One of the things that often happens when they are caught is they are raped, tortured, and killed. Even men are tortured in this way to shame and demean them. Their response when asked how they would handle this happening to them is that they have offered their lives as a living sacrifice to God. This would just be one more way they have given their lives for God’s glory. (Sheep Among Wolves, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9SAPOLKF59U&t=45s)
That shook me. In America, we don’t think that way. We focus on rights and laws and religious freedom. Our big sacrifices are often giving up our Saturday to help clean the church grounds or serving a meal for the homeless instead of going out to dinner. I know some here in America do suffer more than that, but I don’t think the average Christian does. Another part of the video is a wife asking her husband if they can move back to the Middle East. They had moved to the USA, and she said she felt herself falling asleep spiritually.
That made me stop and pray. If our One Thing is to grow in Christ and to live our lives to glorify and make His name known among the nations, we have to examine our hearts and our actions to see if we are truly doing that, or have we fallen into living a religious and culturally acceptable life?
For the light makes everything visible. This is why it is said, “Awake, O sleeper, rise up from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk with wine because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:14-18, NLT)
I pray we all ask ourselves what our One Thing truly is that makes this life worth living, that motivates us to stand in the face of fear, and that drives us to make a difference in this world, especially in these uncertain days.
Kids’ Books: The uncertain days your child is facing right now is most likely dealing with COVID at the moment. If your child is experiencing fear and uncertainty because of COVID-19, some books have been written explaining the pandemic. You may want to check out Paula and the Pandemic, Lucy’s Mask, The Social Distance King, or Masked Ninja. Masked Ninja has more information but could also scare young children. Some of the statements could be misunderstood. However, the author does offer free printables for kids to go with the book at http://www.marynhin.com/ninja-printables.html.
I recommend books that remind them that God is with them and loves them. One book is Quinn’s Promise Rock by Christie Thomas, Illustrated by Sydney Hanson. Two others are by the same author Agnes de Bezenac. One is Safe with God (Psalm 91), and the other is God Talks with Me about Overcoming Fears.
This website has lesson plans for talking about COVID and a child’s fears and concerns: https://ministryspark.com/god-stronger-fear-covid-lesson/
Here’s an article from Replicate Ministries on helping kids when they are afraid: https://replicate.org/teaching-children-trust-god-when-youre-afraid/