One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in his temple. (Psalm 27:4)

This is a rich verse. David had whittled his life down to one point: "One thing have I desired of the LORD." Also Paul did that with his life. He said, "...but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:13,14). In this day, whittle down your life, as you would whittle down a pencil, until you can write with it. Our lives are very complicated, so just keep whittling.

Most of my life I felt like Martha in the kitchen. She was encumbered with much service (see Luke 10:40). Poor Martha reached for a pot to cook something in it, then she reached for a pan to boil something in it, and she reached for another container to put the potatoes in, and by that time something fell out of the cupboard. She became frustrated trying to do everything at once. How complicated life has become for many of us. We are frustrated, under tension and pressure all the time. It is wonderful to whittle your life down to what is important. It is a relief to reduce your life to the lowest common denominator.

The happiest time of my ministry began when I retired from the pastorate; the most spiritually profitable time of my life began at that moment. I have seen more folk turn to Christ in this brief interval than in any other period of my life, and I have never rejoiced so. Do you know why? I have whittled my life down to the one thing I want to do — teach the Bible. That is all I am doing. My life has been whittled down to that, and I am enthusiastic about it. I believe this is what God wants me to do.

Now notice the "one thing" in David's life was "that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life." I don't think David intended to take his sleeping bag into the tabernacle and stay there. But he wanted the ark, which was God's meeting place with His people, with him in Jerusalem. He went to great lengths to bring it to Jerusalem and erected a tabernacle for it and planned an elaborate temple for God. Why? Through that he had access to God. That was the "one thing" in David's life.

We have access to God through Christ, and this is the thing we ought to rejoice in. Paul gives us the eight benefits of being justified by faith in Romans 5:1-5. The second benefit Paul mentions is access to God: "By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God." What a wonderful thing it is to have access to God! He is the One who will enable us to whittle our lives down to that one point.

—From Edited Messages on Psalms by Dr. J. Vernon McGee