I was reading this morning Psalm 37:23-24. The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand. Craig Denison states in his devotional, First 15, that there is no greater pursuit than simply delighting in the Lord. When we do this our lives become incredibly simple. It’s in the mixing of God and the world that our hearts become confused.
I have been reading quite a few articles about tiny houses lately. You know, trailers for those who prefer to be referred to as tiny house recyclables as opposed to trailer trash. Sorry that seemed funny in my head, since I am from Bossier City, Louisiana (a.k.a. trailer park world headquarters). I am mesmerized by this tiny house movement. I always loved building forts and tree houses, and tiny houses are like the adult version. Plus, I can relate with the desire to simplify and committing to live in 200 square feet definitely forces some level of simplification. But to live simply for the sake of living simply makes simple living an idol. It then becomes more elusive than ever.
It has been said by everyone from Calvin to Keller that our hearts are idol factories. We can see this manifest itself in a new book, movement, Pinterest page, Facebook post, blog post, etc. We chase down the symptoms of what we are feeling instead of addressing the root cause and we live a life of swatting flies. We set out to quash every little nuisance in our lives. Then, because we are Americans, we create a website about it, followed by a cable TV show, which then starts a movement among the millions of people who are trying desperately to figure out why their lives suck.
The fact is, my heart is often confused because I worship God and. . . my family, my work, my stuff, my desire for less stuff, my desire for life in the mountains, my need for autonomy and any other idol I can create. The older I get, the more I realize how little I actually control. The more flies I swat, the more flies I find. Trying to delight in the Lord and trying to control my life seems to de-light my life, so to speak. As my life becomes cloudier, I become frustrated and cry out to God for help way more than I find myself delighting in Him.
“Simple, not easy” is a phrase I find myself saying often. This is what I want of my life. A life of faith is simple really: Matthew 6:33, Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto to you as well. Simple, but not easy.
Pursuing simplicity is a form of pursuing happiness, because if we are pursuing simplicity we believe it will make us happy. I believe our forefathers established the modern mental health profession in America when they endowed us with the right to pursue happiness. Happiness, like simplicity is ever so elusive in our modern “me first” culture. We inherently know that we will never be happy if our own well-being is our pursuit. Happiness is a by-product of pursuing the well-being of others, yet we continue to pursue our own happiness with every Amazon Prime purchase that is sure to help us simplify our lives.
Pursuing simplicity is a rather complex endeavor if we start from the outside in. We have to individually unshackle ourselves from every item and system we have spent our lifetimes acquiring and building. Simplicity will come not when we pursue it as an end, but when we pursue God and delight in him. Then the shackles will likely begin to fall off as those complexities of life become less and less important. So practically how do we learn to “delight” in the Lord. One of my favorite quotes is by Walter Brueggemann, “Faith on its way to maturity moves from duty to delight”. So we start by fulfilling the duties of faith by loving God with all our hearts and loving others as ourselves. We do this by acting out our love in service for God and others. This will lead us to delight in the Lord, which will make so many other “important” things in our lives less important. We will begin to naturally simplify our strongholds. Then, if we want to move into a tiny house, it will be because it is cool and not because we hope it will be the holy grail in our quest for simplistic bliss.