“A man is raised up from the earth by two wings–simplicity and purity. There must be simplicity in his intention and purity in his desires. Simplicity leads to God, purity embraces and enjoys Him. If your heart is free from ill-ordered affection, no good deed will be difficult for you. If you aim at and seek after nothing but the pleasure of God and the welfare of your neighbor, you will enjoy freedom within.”
Thomas a’ Kempis The Imitation of Christ (Bk. I, ch. 4).
Life has become too complicated for some people. So they are taking steps to live more simply. One group of friends met together for a potluck dinner one night and made a pact to buy nothing new except for food, medicine and toiletries for the next six months. Turns out they were able to extend their agreement for another six months. They made it an entire year without buying anything but necessities.
Their story got out and before long there were groups springing up across the country. Seems a lot of people are tired of how complicated life can be when in response to the seductive messages of our culture we become consumed with consuming. Judith Levine even wrote a book (which I have not read) chronicling her experience Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping.
Sometimes my life is just too complicated, too. While I am not ready to sign a pact, I feel the need to ask God for a renewed sense of perspective. How can I simplify without letting the process make me more rather than less focused on things? What do I really need? How do I find the balance between being grateful to God for material blessings and becoming attached to them? When does saving become hoarding? What stuff can I do without?
God, please give me renewed perspective.
“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (1 Timothy 6:6-10).
“Don’t be obsessed with getting more material things. Be relaxed with what you have. Since God assured us, “I’ll never let you down, never walk off and leave you.”
Hebrews 13:5 The Message
According to a recent article in Florida Today, people are leaving their stuff everywhere. Cab drivers find all kinds of items left by fares. In just two weeks, Denver International Airport collected 74 cell phones and 96 laptops forgotten at security checkpoints. Florida airports report people forgetting their jackets there, perhaps due to the warm weather. People even forget to reclaim their shoes after an evening at the bowling alley.
God wants us to enjoy blessings He provides, but maybe we just have too much stuff.
Why do we seem to have a constant thirst for more and more?
Could it be that we have forgotten God’s words of assurance that He will never leave us.
Maybe we ought to leave behind some of our possessions. Intentionally. Purposefully.
Simplify and learn to be content with God.
What do I need to leave behind?