The past several weeks I've been deliberately trying to simplify things in our life.
I stopped eating all added sugars and caffeine, which if you know me, was and is a horrible idea, for I LOVE gummy bears, York Peppermint Patties and lots and lots of coffee, and life without them has been difficult (as well as full of headaches and sluggishness and great battles with grouchiness.)
I've tried to simplify meals and hostessing and the girls schedules, letting go of lots of little things and looking more at big picture. I let a book we just couldn't get through go from our curriculum, I asked Haylie to help me with my grading, my homemade dessert for prayer meeting was opening a bag of chocolate Easter eggs last week, and I am incredibly ashamed to say that my sunrise service breakfast contribution, instead of hot-crossed homemade buns like last year, or sausage quiche the year before, may have been strawberry pop-tarts.
I cut them into diamonds. I don't think that fooled anyone.
I'm saying NO to guilt, saying YES to simple.
I realized while reading My Utmost this morning with a fevered and miserable dear Nora that most of what I love about Chambers is how he cuts through all the crud of this day and age, all the clouds in my heart and speaks. the. simple. truth.
It's what I love about God's Word. It's just true. And even when I don't see HOW it can be true, or don't think THAT something should be true, or don't get WHY something is true...it's still simple.
I don't have to "get" God's Word, understand every element, or even AGREE. Simple fact is that all we need to be faithful to God in regards to His Word is to simply believe that God is Right and that His Word is True, and get behind Him in spite of ourselves, in spite of the modern day. If what He says doesn't seem right or fair to me...then very simply, I am wrong.
"Be ready in and out of season," 2 Timothy 4 says. In other words, says Chambers, be ready whether we feel like it or not. So many of us are totally unemployable in the spiritual realm. We are spiritually feeble and weak, and refuse to do anything unless we are supernaturally inspired. The proof of our relationship being right with God is that we do our best unto Him...whether we feel inspired. or. not.
A few nights ago at staff meeting, a visitor was being asked about what he'd like to help with this week, and his willing response made me laugh: "I am very ready to do whatever you are able to get me to do this week."
As I have simplified lots of external things these weeks like food and closets and schedules, has God only been able to get me to do what I was already easily wanting to do?
Do we often agree very adamantly only with the portions of Scripture we adamantly agree with? Do we often purse very passionately the roads that we were quite already inclined to meander?
I heard a radio program once where some woman called in and explained all the reasons she found it difficult to spend time in the Word and in prayer each day. She explained her job, and her kids, and her husband's schedule, and her workload, and then asked the host for pointers on how she could find time to spend focused time on God each day.
I don't remember who the man was, but he infuriated her with his simple response.
"You do it."
YES, she argued, but she had so many other things to do and so many places to go, and he interrupted her again with, "Every day you spend concentrated time with the Lord."
Yes, but how do I find the time? she tried again, and again, "If you're saying it's your great desire, you. will. do. it."
His simplicity seemed unfeeling, but it it was God's truth, cutting through all the human complicated in her life.
I know without a doubt that He wants to hear from me more, is beckoning me to be quiet and listen. So will I simply do it? Simply decide that before I go to bed each night, no matter what time it is, I will spend quality time in prayer?
I know without a doubt that there is a specific Bible study that was dropped when Junior left that the Lord has brought to my mind again and again to pick up....as I have waited and waited for someone more qualified and more Haitian and more perfect to do it.
I know without a doubt that there is a huge way we can help another family, but it's expensive and it's messy and I'd really rather someone else...but He brings it upward again and again.
Are we only doing and being for God whatever God can get us to do and be?
Or are we simply remaining true to God, ready in and out of season, moving as He moves, pouring as He pours, breaking as He breaks, believing what He says, standing where He stands, valuing what He values, and naturally following our Father SO closely that we are free of our preferences and comforts and opinions.
I can clean my house and body out all day long...but THAT is how God purifies our faith.