Simplify: That word sounds like a perfect pair of jeans with my favorite soft t-shirt. It’s a cup of tea with milk and sugar and a black and white movie. My heart’s desire to simplify is so that I will be freed up from the clutter of things and activities in order to make room for what matters most.
We’re in the process of simplifying right now in a big way with a move. (Not far, just a local jaunt back into a little piece of country.) I’m selling furniture, digging through files, sorting through kitchen gadgets, and pairing down our toys. My mantra:
“Only keep my favorite things! Donate or sell the rest.”
I want the new place to be like a vacation condo, where you have everything you need, but that’s about it, and you can relax easily without all the stuff.
It’s hard to do, though, and I don’t know if I’ll succeed. Clothes are a big problem, as well as my stock-piles of things I’ve acquired through sales and deals, like an entire shelf of first aid supplies that will last us quite a few years. That stuff is expensive, so I don’t want to just donate with it.
And, I’m a home schooling mom, so don’t even get me started about books!
As I painstakingly pick through boxes and totes and tubs and junk drawers that have hidden the items I don’t usually want to deal with, I’m trying to optimistically look ahead to a simpler life.
Now switch gears…
I left my moving boxes and piles to have dinner tonight with missionary friends from Asia. They showed us pictures of how they and others lived. They talked about their daily lives and the work they are doing. And when I got into bed tonight, it hit me: I have not even begun to simplify my life!
Reducing my skirts from 21 to 12 seems insignificant when I hear that once, when she was at the hospital having a baby, she came home to find ALL of her clothing stolen from her closet. Narrowing down my beloved kitchen gadgets to just my “needs,” debating about keeping one crock pot or two, is nothing compared to the single spoon many families share while sitting on the ground around a fire.
I felt so proud of my friend, but honestly, I left very unsettled inside. At 3 AM I woke up with this thought:
You know that passage in Hebrews 12?
I’m on the grace-filled road of sanctification, but that verse is right–I have not yet resisted sin to the point of death! The striking contrast between my life and my friend’s is immense, but it is nothing in comparison to the contrast between my puny struggle against sin and the perfect example Jesus set!
What does that look like?
It’s dying to myself on a minute by minute basis so I can live as God wants me to live. Throwing off every sin that hinders and entangles me. Allowing myself to be trained by God’s discipline instead of rationalizing. Making every effort to live in peace. Not allowing bitterness to grow. Not craving the “one thing” I am not to have, while forsaking the entire garden of life God has planned for me.
God woke me up tonight to tap me on the shoulder. He pulled me aside and said, “Becky, I have something I really want you to learn.” It’s a lesson not only about simplifying but about complete, unwavering, unquestioning, sold-out obedience.
Sins were confessed. Changes must be made, and by God’s grace, I want to be different. I have a long way to go.
I’m so thankful that He loves me enough to correct me, for His patience as I deal with things He’s been trying to teach me for years, and that He enables me by His Spirit to even have a heart that wants to change. I’m so thankful that He’s already forgiven all my sins–past, present, and future–and that He cares enough to instruct me in the way I should go.
What a loving God we serve! Let’s simplify our lives, by reducing the “stuff,” but also the sins as well. Throwing off everything that so easily entangles.
What are you going to throw off?
“Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness.
No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”