Last weekend Amy and I did something that was good for our marriage and good for our souls. We were having an early lunch together right after yoga class and I reminded her that I did not have any commitments that day or the next. Furthermore Aaron would be away at the church’s Jr-Sr. retreat so we had two days to ourselves. After a bit of exchanging comments like, “I don’t know, what do you want to do,” we decided to swing by the house, hastily pack a bag, and head up to the North Georgia mountains and spend the night in a cabin – all without making any kind of reservations. Not only did we find a delightful cabin, but we found a music venue in Dahlonega that had as their special guests a guitar duo we had heard on NPR this past fall (Storyhill, in case you are curious. You listen to their music on www.storyhill.com ).
It was not a complicated weekend. The music venue was a small restaurant that seated maybe fifty people all to listen to two guys with two guitars sing into two microphones. The cabin was sparse, rustic, but cozy and warm overlooking a creek in the mountains. We did a bit of shopping, but spent very little money on the pottery, fudge, and beef jerky we brought home. We both agreed it was one of the best weekends we have enjoyed together in a long, long time.
It is amazing how often the simple things are also the best things. Yet just as often we tend to enslave ourselves with the burdens of complexity. In Ecclesiastes 7:29 we read: “This is all that I have learned: God made us plain and simple, but we have made ourselves very complicated.” (Good News Translation)
One of the most tangible ways we add to our burdens is through our possessions: we either want more or are laboring to protect what we have or are deprived and stand in need or want. Do you own your possessions or do your possession own you?
Simplicity has been on my mind lately, and not just because I am planning to preach on it this Sunday as one of our New Year’s resolutions to “Live More Simply.” According to Richard Foster, there are at least three ways Christians are to practice an inner attitude of simplicity: 1)to receive what we have as a gift from God; 2) to know that it is God’s business, and not ours, to care for what we have; and 3) to have our goods available to others. (Celebration of Discipline, pp. 88-89)
More and more I am noticing I have cluttered up my life, oftentimes with stuff – books, trinkets, gadgets, and toys. It is not that my stuff is bad, but that most of my stuff have become symbols of unnecessary burdens and distractions. Furthermore we need more space just to house our stuff – how crazy is that? No, I may not be liquidating and divesting all my things anytime soon, but I am looking more and more of what I need to do (or not do) so that I can live closer to the earth and closer to the ones I love without distractions and things getting in the way.
More important than anything else you or I do, however, is to heed the words of Jesus: “Seek first the kingdom of God…and all these things shall be yours as well.” (Matthew 6:33) May we seek together, and I am…