A Simple Life
Oftentimes, life can feel like one big juggling act. There are bills to pay, jobs to work, mouths to feed, goals to achieve, problems to solve, ventures to plan, etc… Don’t get us wrong, these activities are important, but it leaves the vast majority of people feeling overwhelmed and physically and mentally exhausted. The simple answer would be to own less stuff or cut down on a busy schedule, but as important and helpful as those minimalist activities are, they are treating the symptom and not the cause. A cluttered and unfulfilled life cannot be cured through external fixes, but only through a change of the heart.
The Necessary: A great example of focusing on the necessary is found when Jesus interacts with Martha and Mary. “Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word. But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.” But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” — Luke 10:38–42. This is a very interesting scripture because one would reasonably sympathize with Martha who is doing all the serving, yet, the Lord points out that her worry and bothered nature, even though performed as a courtesy for her guest, is not good and taking her focus from what is really necessary. On the other hand, Mary was fixated on the words of Jesus and receiving what really mattered. The example in this scripture is — you can busy yourself for the right reasons, but still miss the big picture. A lot of what people do in life is for the right reasons, but it ends up having the opposite results. For example, a person who works extra long hours and sacrifices spending quality time with their family, do so, in their reasoning, because they care for their loved ones and want to provide. However, by only providing material benefits, they are sacrificing quality connections through their absence, and thus, grow apart. This is a paradox and similar to Martha’s reasoning. So, judge what is necessary and unnecessary and like Mary choose the good part.
Heart and Treasure: Without a purpose or clear goals, you will find yourself distracted by short-term activities. However, simply making external changes won’t last long if it’s not in your heart. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” — Matthew 6:21. You first need to know exactly what you’re running towards. Where is your heart? Take a step back and examine yourself. If your heart is in missions, then you will find it impossible to not be a missionary. If it is in teaching the Word, then you will feel an irresistible pull to be a teacher. If it’s for a specific vocation, then you will find yourself pursuing that path. Regardless of what it is, wherever the treasure is, your heart will be there also. Remember, everything you have in life is a result of what you truly treasure.
Simplicity, Purpose, and Sacrifice: True simplicity is doing less of what matters least. Once you have a real purpose installed in your life the necessary things become first and foremost, while needless distractions take a back seat. Yet today, a large number of people claim to be in limbo and without a true purpose. One of the most common complaints in the modern day church sounds like this, “I don’t know what my purpose is. I just wish God would show me.” The problem with a person who says such things is that they don’t recognize their purpose because their purpose is currently focused on unnecessary distractions. These distractions might be for material possession, social status or some other cause, but regardless, their heart is elsewhere. It’s very childish to blame God for a lack of purpose, instead, such a person should look inward and truly ask themselves if they are willing to make a sacrifice. Because that’s what a purpose takes — sacrifice. How can you have a purpose of being a missionary if you aren’t willing to leave your friends, family and material possessions behind for a period of time? How can you start that business if you aren’t willing to quit your comfortable job and commit to it? How can you accomplish the things the Lord has called you to if you are unwilling to sacrifice the unnecessary distractions? “No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.” — Luke 16:13. People who complain of not having a purpose are those who are unwilling to sacrifice the unnecessary. If you are truly seeking a life purpose, it will find you quickly and force you to make a decision, but be prepared to sacrifice something or you will be like those who claim God won’t show them their path.
Inward Change = Outward Results: When your life-focus changes you will see outward results. We can only speak from our experience, but when we made the commitment to missions 20-years ago a lot in our life changed. We sold our possessions, prayed for guidance and began planning and researching parts of the world we felt called to. Our lives became extremely simplistic and the outward results were astonishing. The sum total of our possessions could fit into a backpack. We didn’t care about much else unless it had some relevance to the mission. We valued things like quick drying shirts, packable rain jackets, underwear that could last a long time, expedition kit, tribal locations of the unreached, or anything that could assist us in the purpose to bring the Gospel to the most remote regions on earth. These are the things that held value, while everything else became an unnecessary distraction. Even to this day when we buy a new shirt, the first thought we think is…how would this hold up in the jungle or the desert? The best part is, we wouldn’t have it any other way. Life is simple. We own very little not because we decided to declutter our lives, but because our purpose dictated that it wasn’t necessary. The purpose-filled path we followed shaped who we are inside and out. It is not a common path, but there is no other path we’d choose. Where will your path lead? Be bold and step out in faith. A simple and purpose-filled life awaits.