Every part of our lives seems to be busy with something or someone wanting more and more of our time, resources or relationships. Over the next few weeks we are looking at a series called The Simple Life that will unpack four areas and help all of us discover or re-discover the kind of life that Jesus was talking about in John 10:10 ‘10The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows). We were not created to have miserable and joyless lives but abundant and joy filled lives, a life rich in experiences with family and friends rather than double-booked to-do lists that leave us feeling powerless.
We have used a book written by Thomas and Art Rainer called The Simple Life as we have prepared for this series. The basis of this book comes from a study of almost 1,100 people that identified four key areas of their lives that needed some kind of refocus or simplifying. The Four areas we will look at over the next few weeks are Time, Money, God, and Relationships.
Encountering challenges should be no surprise to us, we see in Acts 6 that the Early Church needed to look for ways to overcome the complex issues they faced. The church was growing at a rapid rate and the problems of interaction also increased through complaining and murmuring. In Acts 6 we see an urgent need was able to be met by others and everything got even better. They had to deal with the messy stuff in life. We tend to believe that if we can just get over the next mountain ahead of us we will be able to survive and simplify.
The discussion here did not fail to acknowledge the need of the widows receiving food, they did not ignore the issues around them, rather they:
1. Ask Honest Questions (honest with themselves and others)
2. Asked Hard Questions (They acknowledged that something good had to change)
3. Sought Creative Solutions (They were creative in discovering the alternatives)
4. Continued Developing Solutions (They kept their focus with new challenges)
Rainer goes on to describe some tools of how we can take a step closer to living a Simple Life, he says we need to seek:
Do you know where you are going?
Movement: Congestion is bad, traffic, sinus. Congestion in life means that you are not making progress. The authors show the readers how to use intentionality and incrementality to knock down the roadblocks, to change and simplify. We all know that one big systemic change is way too tiring and scary to attempt and here is a way to get at real change in small, noticeable ways. You can have a clear plan of where you want to go, (clarity), but until you move you will not experience the goal.
Alignment: Just like a car when the wheels are ‘out of alignment’ it becomes difficult to drive, our lives get out of alignment slowly and usually unnoticeably. Debt doesn't just show up overnight just like carrying extra weight or becoming distant in relationships. You don't get overbusy in one day either. Eliminating some of the GOOD STUFF is key to aligning our lives around what really matters to us! Alignment refers to the challenges that interfere with progress.
Focus: That will take us past good intentions and help us make tough decisions that will help us move towards a simple life. Focus means that some things just don't get done no matter how good they are.
There are some great questions that can help us take a fresh look at our lives from Ignatius, these are:
“During today, what drew me towards God?”
“During today, what drew me away from God?”
“What happened to rob my joy and focus?”
“Why is my heart so fickle that I turn from passion towards God to disinterest so quickly?”
Finish by reading Matthew 11:28-30 and remember you will never learn until you take His yoke upon you. You will never take His yoke until you come to Him, laying aside all other things. The result is that Jesus will give you rest, you will find rest for your soul (mind, will, emotions). His yoke will be easy and His burden will be light.
1. Are there any areas of your life that you need to de-clutter physically, emotionally, spiritually and financially?
2. How can we develop more ‘margin’ in our lives?
3. Which of the four areas mentioned do you need the most help in right now?
4. Name one area that you believe your life could be simpler? Finish by praying for this area and that all people present would be able to ‘come to Jesus in a fresh way, take his yoke which is light and learn to keep in step with Jesus more effectively’.