In the movie City Slickers, Billy Crystal’s character, Mitch, is having a mid-life crisis. He is questioning his purpose. Has he really obtained what is important? Mitch decides, with a little coercing from his friends, going to a dude ranch with his buddies may give him perspective, or at least a passing thrill. Upon arriving, he is introduced to Jack Palance’s character, Curly, a hardened salty type, who is the trail boss who leads them on a cattle drive.
As the film progresses, fun and hi-jinks follow, but Mitch is often reflecting on his all important question. Is his life worthwhile? This brings us to the famous exchange between Mitch and Curly:
Curly: Do you know what the secret of life is? [Holds up one finger]
Mitch: Your finger?
Curly: One thing – just one thing. You stick to that and the rest don’t mean [anything].
Mitch: But, what is the “one thing?”
Curly: [smiles] That’s what you have to find out.
As with Mitch, most people would find that perplexing. What is the one thing?Where would we find such information? This is the age old question. Men have scaled mountains, researched countless ancient scrolls, gone to war, created and performed rituals, and the list goes on, for the answer.
Let us look at another exchange concerning the “one thing” – this time from the bible.
Luke 10:38-42, “Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.”
And Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.’”
Mary chose to enjoy the visit from Jesus. She was listening to His teachings and had committed her life to Him. Obviously, she was going to take full advantage of His presence.
Many people on their death beds are panicked and clamoring for the answer to the one thing. Confused, bewildered, and desperately searching, they realize their earthly pursuits have come up empty. The pursuit of material things (house, cars, large screen TV, vacations, etc.), and the acts (sexual deviancy, drugs, alcohol, greed, impure thoughts, lying, etc.), did not fill the void in their lives. As life marched on, this pursuit became more like a disease, hardening them with time and showing its unbalance with emotional symptoms like loneliness, sadness, depression, anxiousness, and anger… all of this leading to eventual despair.
By looking further into the above passage and the teachings of Jesus, the answer to the one thing is very clear. It is living a life committed to Jesus Christ.
For those who do not have a relationship with Jesus: If you are honest with yourself you know there is a God in Heaven and you know that you have sinned against Him. You know this because of your conscience. The definition of conscience is “with knowledge.” – God created you to have knowledge of right and wrong. You have sinned against the Holy God. He, who is perfect, holy, righteous, loving and just, has sent His Son, Jesus Christ, as a sacrifice for your sin. You have broken His holy standard and there is a penalty to pay. Romans 6:23 clearly states this penalty, “For the payment of sin is death.” Death is separation from God in hell. “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” Don’t wait until the damage is done and it is too late. Humble yourself and turn towards God. Put your faith in Jesus Christ alone to save you, and become His follower. By doing this God will give you true peace and will remove the hurt and heartache.
For the believer in Christ, the “one thing” lies within Matthew 22:37-40 – We are to love God with everything that we are and to love our fellow neighbor in the same way. A good guideline for this passage looks like this – Verse 37, 1) Praise and worship God. 2) Read the bible everyday – several times a day. 3) Pray in earnest. Verse 39, 4) Fellowship with other believers and 5) share the Gospel. This pursuit brings balance in our lives.
When our life here on earth is coming to an end, we should look eagerly to Heaven, waiting to be in The Lord’s presence. My hope is that you find that One thing that will complete you and bring you joy.