Thursday, July 24, 2008

It's Simple!

Kids are so good as resting when they need to, aren't they?

I have been thinking all summer about how to simplify my life and what a simple life means. Summer is always a time for me to think about my life and evaluate where I am versus where I want to be. It's a time to think about what I want our family life to look like too.

There is so much online right now about the simple life. There are many definitions of what that means. I think that our modern culture has become so complicated with too many opportunities and too much stuff. We are all exhausted physically and sick of tripping over *stuff*. (If you don't believe we all have too much stuff, announce in church next Sunday that you are looking for clothes in all sizes. See if by the end of the next week you can't fill a room with all you receive!)

I think simplicity roots grow from two places: loving God and loving my neighbor. I think discontent comes from not being at peace with God and man. I think when we are not at peace with God and man, then we go searching for *things* and *busyness* to fill that void and bury that guilt.

When we have a right relationship with God it breeds peace and contentment in our souls. Then we can have the attitude of: "take it all, but give me Jesus." We can "set our minds on things above and not on earthly things." Col. 3:2. We don't need the stuff or the busyness. We can be still. We can love quiet. If God fills us, we are full indeed and don't need to be full of stuff and busyness.

Jesus said that the first commandment is to "Love the Lord our God with all of our heart and soul and mind." The second is like it: "Love your neighbor as yourself." Mt. 22:37-39 Then in Romans 12:18 it says: "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone."

First of all, I can't love God and hate my brother at the same time. God tells me this in 1 John. So, my peace with man is linked to my peace with God. If I am making trouble with man, I am making trouble with God. In a very practical sense, if I have all these issues with people, my time is spent arguing and feeling miserable and that is not very peaceful. (But remember the verse says, "if it is possible" so "as much as it relies upon me, I will be at peace with all men." Some don't want peace, then I must try and pray.)

So, to wrap up what has been on my mind, as I look to God and say "how can I have a simple life?" The answer starts with my relationship to Him. I need to strip all of *it* away and look to Him to show me all He wants me to do. I don't hinder my relationship to God by being at enmity with others. Then He can show me, bit by bit how to fill my day and my life. The extras can safely fall away.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." Hebrews 12:1-3


Bren said...

Wow Karen!! This was an incredible post! I really needed this right now. I am not looking at the simplicity aspect as much (I think I figured that out for myself), but the contentment part is where I am at. I live in a small cul de sac and there is a family who is at war with everyone else. They use vulgar language around our children, drive their cars VERY fast on our street, and are just MEAN. They hide behind a church and are a deacon and the head of the children's ministry. It angers me. All of it. To hear the "deacon" scream profanity at an unsaved woman (for no reason) and then to hear my neighbors talk about how "that is what christianity is...a bunch of hypocrites" makes me resentlful. But you are right. God says love your neighbor and the fact that there is discontent is the reason we have no contentment in our little neighborhood, nor in our homes.

Patty H. said...

Karen, thank you for this post. As you noticed on t2chk, I was wondering exactly what a simple life is-who and what defines it.
You have defined that for me. My dh spoke on 1 John last night, our love for others, how it affects not only our life but the churchs and everyone around us. I think that means love for ourself also. Not self-centered love but loving ourselves for who we are in Christ.
Thank you again for this post. I've printed it out (if thats ok?) to help me on my journey to a more content, simple life.
Patty H.

Karen T. said...

Dear Bren, I am sorry you have this very difficult situation in your neighborhood. I am praying that Jesus' love will shine so bright through you!!

Patty, Of course it is fine for you to print this and any post from my blog. I am blessed it was a help to you!!

Nicole said...

I, too, will be printing this out, Karen. It was a wonderful post and helps me put things in perspective. If I am upset/not content, I tend to fill my life with material stuff. Nine times out of ten, it is stuff I don't need. My house is overflowing with stuff because I have problems with my relationships. Thank you again, Karen, for a great post!