This originally posted in February of 2009–a year I spend focusing on a different spiritual discipline each month. February’s discipline was “simplicity.”
I launched into this month’s spiritual discipline in a very complicated time of the year. I was helping lead a women’s retreat, continuing to teach at Hope’s women’s bible study, planning to launch a new nighttime women’s ministry, all the while being a full-time mom and part-time counselor. Oh, and did I mention my writing obsession? My life is at best complicated, at worst a whirlwind of errands and a daily tyranny of “must-dos.”
So typically, I headed into this month’s spiritual discipline overloaded and disheveled. And so here we are. How, in this crazy culture of complications, do we reconcile a need for simplicity? And is it really necessary?
Honestly, I kind of like complications. I like my technology, my blog, my friends on Facebook. I like that I can raise my kids and keep my career going and do ministry. I choose to listen to people’s complicated lives and enter in to their situations because I like it.
So is simplicity necessary? Is it really taught in scripture? Am I supposed to be a pioneer women, happy to stay home, teach my kids, sew clothes and make bread? (Nothing wrong with that, just not my personal first choice). And then (gasp!) I wonder if I’m a big fat sinner for staying busy.
Oh, the joy of the deceiver, when he gets me like this! So today, while observing Sabbath, I took a closer look at what simplicity is all about. And I found this definition to be pleasing:
Simplicity is a call to a one-track way of living.
Jesus puts it simply when he says: “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” or “you cannot serve both God and money.”
Simplicity is choosing one way: God’s way. The Early Christian movement was referred to as “The Way.” I love that concept, that following Jesus is “the way.” and Jesus’ way was simple. Choose God first. Every time. All the time. Orient your inner world around Him.
So does the discipline of simplicity require casting off every complexity, grabbing your kiddos and moving to a commune? I guess that could be simple, for a little while. But before you know it, the grass would need mowing, the cows would need milking, the socks would need mending, and the kids would need schooling. Complications are everywhere.
I think we all know that we can’t run from the ways of the world. But what we can do is open ourselves up for inspection, evaluate where our treasure is. Confess when we run after false idols. Fiercely turn away from everything that clamors for our heart’s affection. That is what simplicity is all about. A one-track heart.
The How of Simplicity? That, my friends, is what we are all working out together. And by the way, I’ve avoided Starbucks.