The Simple Life – Living Single – Lately, I have been doing a lot of thinking of what I really want out of life. Now in my forties, well past the hills of youth, but still young enough to enjoy the journey with wisdom.
When I was younger, I wanted it all. I wanted the money, the power, and the women (my standard Scarface, The Movie Quote), and the freedom to go and do.
I spent years running after something that was less than fulfilling and brought no peace. The money was fun for a short time, but it left me in fear of losing it. The power was commanding and respected but caused pride, the original sin, to be the center of everyday living. And the women, hearts broken, looking for fulfillment in someone other than my creator.
As I read through the bible I find that much of the daily grind isn’t highlighted. Only when we dig deeper do we see the exceptional in the unexceptional moments.
Take Joseph for example; 15 years in prison and only a few moments of his life are highlighted. I wonder what the other 5000 days looked or felt like. Or take Boaz, a man who shows up at the end of his life to help fulfill God’s plan to send a savior. We know nothing of his life before his brief 4-chapter appearance in Ruth and he dies shortly after his child is born.
Over and over God provides a promise to those who in most cases never realize it, but simply live out his calling in their daily life.
Not every moment in life has to be exceptional, however every moment can be responded to in an exceptional way. Simple is not boring, it just means keeping our focus on something greater than ourselves.
We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Hebrews 12:2 (NLV)
So how can you simplify your life in a practical way while also choosing to make those simple moments exceptional?
1. Create order in your life through simple planning.
Repeatedly in the bible we read of God’s plans and how they were laid long before the foundations of creation (Ephesians 1:4-14). He is not sitting in heaven going with the flow, he is the flow. He is a God of order and being created in his image, many of us thrive on that order. The best way to create order is by laying out a simple framework for your life so that it’s more ordered than chaotic. Sometimes we want to get too specific which is when we create more stress rather than using simple planning to alleviate the wondering thoughts. Chose to create a simple plan that provides the flexibility of change.
2. Value the moment rather than seeking a destination.
I have spent the last decade sitting at a desk. I get up at 7, at work by 8, and end my day after the sun goes down. Each day I leave the desk at noon for a run, then back at it within the hour. Comparing that to ten years prior as a CEO of a fast-moving internet company seems rather boring. It took years of discontent to finally come to a place where I placed more value on a moment, then where I thought I wanted to be. Once I concluded that each day was a gift and the moments within that day could be valued in joy, I laid down the discontent for peace. The moment I choose to pick up the ‘what if’s’ is the moment I sacrifice peace.
Last month, my oldest daughter (who is recently engaged) and I were talking about her future. My intention was to pass on some wisdom when my experience, got in the way of truth (God’s Turth). My questions were along the lines of “what if this or that happens, do you have a plan?”
As we just discussed, it’s never wrong to have a plan. But sometimes we can over-complicate things, that don’t need to be. The older we get, security often takes root in plans. It becomes a safety net, but the reality is that sometimes faith and acceptance are more valuable than a plan. That is when we need a reminder.
After my Dad wisdom speech, I get the “Dad…the ‘what if’s’, they will always be there, those are God’s deal.”I was like, wow…that’s good! I knew that; but it reminded me of how easily we seek security through our plans verses God’s promise through his word.
I am sure there is a bible verse on that one. “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” Matthew 6:34 MSG
Don’t get so caught up with the “what if’s” of life that you forget to LIVE in the now of where God has you.
3. Value people and service more than your wants.
I have been a selfish person. My thoughts and actions have placed more focus on my discomforts rather than honoring God in the moments of discomfort. I have a good sense of empathy until the point it has inconvenienced me. The practice of truly seeking others outside of my comfort zone, placing value on their moments, and being there in service has changed what I value. Freedom today looks a lot like servitude.You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh ; rather, serve one another humbly in love. Galatians 5:13 (NIV)
Life really doesn’t have to be that complicated. The framework for living simple is found in 1 Thessalonians 4:11 which says, “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.”