Simple living isn’t a destination it is a direction. I think this is partly why we give up so easily on trying to uncomplicate our lives. Frustrated by the lack of a finish line we easily return to our old yet familiar ways. Every time we return however we are more disillusioned than before – that there is even such a thing as a simple life. Our frustration becomes a dangerous apathy and simplicity will seem like only a myth in a long list of unattainables.
What if we changed our goals though, and began to celebrate simple movement in the direction of a simpler life. Movement is not just underrated but sometimes not even noticed. We live for results. But life is more than a destination…says the sign on my bathroom wall. The climb out of this complicated life is often only recognized in retrospect. For some eating together as a family every night is an impossible task, but making a Friday night tradition is movement in the right direction. We could appreciate the effort to begin to shop smarter, eat smarter, read more, walk more, or love more. Maybe if we celebrated effort in those directions and possibly over time we will achieve some of what we seek.
The reality is that uncomplicating our lives is complicated. As we think about it, it seems like so much work. But what if instead of more work, we just adjusted how we do the things we already do. There are always ways to redeem some of the things that are hogging our life. Maybe that 40 minute commute to and from work can accomplish something else besides the cathartic bitch and moan session we are currently experiencing. If we could redeem that time, perhaps our arrivals at both work and home might be more pleasant for us and those receiving us. What if we were to shift gears and try to infuse something positive into the many chores that are sucking our lives. When we were kids we had this uncanny way of making even the most mundane tasks enjoyable, when did we lose this skill? Is it something we can regain? Our age hasn’t brought wisdom but arrogance. The truth is we need to quit thinking we can make time. Time is not something you can make, there is only 24 hours in a day and at least 5 need to be spend with your eyes shut. We can only spend time. We can spend less on some things and more on others. What we need to do is recognize the value of this currency and recognize what’s getting rich from it.
Jesus has a heart to heart talk with the pedestrians that followed him around listening to his words of life and hope. Matthew records him recognizing the crowd was tired, harassed, worn out. I often read passages like these and think, what do they have to be stressed about? I have come to realize that stress is a universal plague, bearing the weight of that which we cannot carry. Jesus offers a beautiful invitation in Matthew 11:28. Let me paraphrase his words: “For all of you who are sick and tired, the disillusioned, the weary….come to me and receive some well deserved rest. Let me help you see things in a different way, which leads to living in a different way. It’s not just your bodies that are tired, but your souls. What I offer isn’t going to slow you down, but instead make you come alive”. I may have taken some liberties with that well read verse, but I don’t think we truly appreciate all he is saying. The invitation is about movement, not a decision. This isn’t about the acceptance of information-it is about the opportunity of transformation. The movement that is offered in Jesus words is often misunderstood. I grew up being taught that faith was about inviting Jesus to come to my life. The movement was always in that direction. It brings the notion that this is our world after all, and we are inviting God into it. This verse reminds me that this is God’s life, and the invitation is for us to come to him. I wonder if that rest we are asking for, that peace, that respite is available-but perhaps instead of asking God to deliver it like a Pizza, he is asking us to dine in his presence and take the leftovers home. But we’re too busy for that. So we continue to eat the frozen crap in our spiritual freezers and wonder why we’ve lost our taste for food.