Simplicity. I’ll admit, I’m not the best person to model simplicity. I think my bible study group needs a beautiful pitcher of lemonade next to a freshly cooked meal, I insist that printed or electronic invitations are warranted for any occasion, I feel genuine angst when I realize I let a coupon expire, and if red lipstick could be my best friend I would buy a heart shaped necklace and give it half.
But I have been studying simplicity, intentionally or unintentionally, all year. I have slowly integrated aspects of simplicity into my world and have been astonished at the places I’ve been led by simply living simple.
It all started in January at The Gathering with Francis Chan’s book Forgotten God. He sucker punched me in the throat when he told me to forget about God’s will for my life. What do you mean forget about MY PURPOSE? Isn’t part of my Christianity striving to fulfill the reason God put me on this earth? Yes, of course it is. But I don’t have to know that reason right now to fulfill it. If I’m not being obedient this month, this week, this day, this moment then how can I possibly be obedient when presented His 10 year plan for my life?
It changed the way I breathe peace into my life. At the time I didn’t realize I was simplifying my life but by consciously listening to where the Holy Spirit was leading me, simplification is exactly what happened. It makes sense, doesn’t it? God made man simple; man made his complex problems all on his own (Ecclesiastes 7:29). If I’m truly being led by the Holy Spirit, of course my life will naturally simplify.
I had several opportunities to muddy up 2015. It’s too easy to strive for what we want and promise God we’ll use it for good. “Oh Lord, if you give me a bigger home I promise I’ll use it for your glory.” Yeah, I prayed that. But shouldn’t our intent be the other way? Shouldn’t we strive for God and he’ll give us good? (Matthew 6:26) Or maybe it won’t be good. That’s scary – terrifying actually – but if we’re serious about His will for our lives then shouldn’t we be “all in” for whatever His purpose may be? (James 1:12)
You’ll be happy to know that instead of forcing our way into a bigger home (as tempting as it was), we stayed obedient to our commitment to listen but all we continued to hear was “I know you will glorify me in a bigger home but you’re not finished glorifying me in this home yet.” We took our house off the market and are focusing on needing nothing except God.
Because that’s simplicity. It’s not renouncing what you have or belittling the blessings you’ve been given. If your friend brought you a home cooked meal, would you criticize her Tupperware? No! Fully receive, care for, and be good stewards of the gifts God gives. Count your blessings, name them one by one!
But the moment our blessings, or desires, or worries, or to-do lists, or our “best of intentions” become the focus of our efforts they become idolatry. Simplicity is seeking the kingdom of God first. The rest will come in its proper order.
I’m not telling you that it’s easy. In fact, in our modern world it can be harder than ever to detach from what we are being told is important and focus on what God says is important. Hint: Jesus says it’s not of this world; jump to Matthew 19:24 if you’re not sure about His opinion on the matter.
…and I’m not boasting that I do simple well. Just a few weeks ago a friend hurt me with her words and I let it eat at me for days, rolling around in my own pity and criticizing the way she treated me before I finally remembered that it’s not His desire that I suffer from this experience and it’s my duty as a Christ-follower to follow-Christ into love and forgiveness. He was already there, waiting on me, but I made those few days more difficult on myself by not putting this situation in perspective to the throne.
…I am, although, boasting that through Christ, I’ve gotten better. And despite my weaknesses, He will make me even better as I continue toward simplicity. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
So what does simplicity look like?
It’s congratulating your friend on their brand new car then begging God to remove that ping of jealousy that hit you.
It’s realizing that your need to be in makeup before you leave the house is making you late to do life.
It’s replacing the TV show you can’t miss with a complete hour of community with God.
It’s praying that God will use you right where you are when your coworker gets the promotion you feel like you earned.
It’s giving away money when times are tough because it’s not really yours in the first place.
It’s making purchases for usefulness and not for status.
It’s continuing to speak positively into the life of that negative friend who’s always killing the mood.
It’s cancelling the vacation if it causes unreasonable amounts of stress to plan or afford.
It’s viewing your tiny apartment as a gift from God and fully receiving the gift that many don’t have.
It’s saying Lord, I’m listening. I’m seeking you above all else. I’ll only be where you have taken me. I’ll only have what you have given me. I’ll love what you love. I’ll hate what you hate.
Simplicity. It’s not simple. But neither is complexity (you know – fresh lemonade, custom invitations, or perfectly red lips). But what might our world look like if every believer was obedient in every moment? Okay, that’s a tall order; I’ll make it simpler. What might it look like if every believer was obedient in any moment? Putting aside their own plans, their own agendas, their own insecurities, their own preconditioned ideas, and say “I’m listening.”
Today’s post was written by Jennifer Ragsdale.
Jennifer is a flawed child of God stumbling through His unique plan for her life. She’s spent most of 2015 releasing control of her life to the Lord, practicing the art of hugging, and traveling with her husband Spencer.