Living an Uncomplicated Life
The Good News Translation (GNT) translates Ecclesiastes 7:29 as “God made us plain and simple, but we have made ourselves very complicated.” It’s like we’re in another Industrial Revolution, or more correctly, a Technological Revolution. Life has added so many gadgets designed to make life easier, but with a plethora of apps for every perceivable problem, it seems more like we’re drowning in the solutions. Life has become very busy and complicated indeed.
Paul says, “But I am afraid that, even as the serpent beguiled Eve by his cunning, your minds may be corrupted and led away from the simplicity of [your sincere and] pure devotion to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3 Amp). Eve was tempted to believe that God was withholding something good from her. This injected thought gave birth to envy, to have what she did not have, to feel cheated out of what others had. If we ponder over and cherish envy enough, then what the Jones have, becomes our “right” to have. We feel entitled and unjustly treated.
This striving to have and to be can become an obstacle that takes our eyes off the goal – the true Goal, Jesus our Savior and Friend (John 1:29). Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn describes it this way, “It is enough if you don’t freeze in the cold and if thirst and hunger don’t claw at your insides. If your back isn’t broken, if your feet can walk, if both arms can bend, if both eyes can see, if both ears hear, then whom should you envy? And why? Our envy of others devours us most of all” (The Gulag Archipelago, 591-2).
David says, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). Other translations say, “Cease striving and know that I am God” (TLB), “Stop fighting,” He says, “and know that I am God” (GNT), and “Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at Me, your From the Pastor’s Desk High God, above politics, above everything” (The Message). If written today, David may have said, “Put all your apps away. Switch off your smartphones. Fast from Facebook for a while, and gaze intently into your Savior’s eyes” When you do this, your frenzied busy-ness will cease, the loud noise in your head will quiet down, and your shattered nerves will become calm and peaceful.
The author Chuck Swindoll describes it this way, “Noise and words and frenzied, hectic schedules dull our senses, closing our ears to His still, small voice and making us numb to His touch.” It also affects our prayer life. Swindoll says, “Noise and crowds have a way of siphoning our energy and distracting our attention, making prayer an added chore rather than a comforting relief” (Intimacy with the Almighty, 37, 39). What a power nap is to the body and mind, solitude is to the soul. “Soul surgery transpires as serenity replaces anxiety” (ibid., 53).
My prayer is, “Lord, keep me from getting so overwhelmed by the busy distractions of life that I lose my connection with You. Teach me how to value the simple things of life, like silence, simplicity, smiling at a child, and touching the soft, wrinkled skin of an elderly person in a caring way. May I hear your voice in the chirping sound of a bird, and feel your touch in the gentle breeze. Fill my heart with a genuine love for You and all mankind. Amen.”