A few days ago, it was my great joy to untangle the many strands of Christmas lights that somehow magically weave themselves into ridiculous knots during the off season. Why can’t these things be easy? I muttered to myself (again), “There has to be a simpler way!” Something in all of us, at all seasons, cries out for simplicity.
We all have our challenges in life. With age and responsibility comes new layers of things to work through. If you are not careful, life can get very complicated!
In the midst of constant turmoil and complexity the Apostle Paul said that he had to work to live his life “in simplicity and godly sincerity” (2 Corinthians 1:12). Later in the same letter he warned his friends, “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3).
This answers a lot of questions…
What produces complexity? Sin complicates life. It is Satan who designs to bring life into a tangled mess and obscure the beauty that God intended. It is a life disordered by disobedience to God.
Where is simplicity experienced? Simplicity is a matter of the mind. This is where we get weary and faint (Hebrews 12:3). This is where life gets confusing and clouded. You cannot control your circumstances and surroundings, but you must choose your thoughts.
Who brings simplicity to life? Only Christ. Only as Christ is in view and ruling in our hearts and minds do we have any peace and clarity. “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee” (Isaiah 26:3).
The greatest challenge I have is to not be distracted!
Distractions lead to many things – discouragement, detours, disappointment – but they always lead me away from one thing: keeping my eyes on Jesus!
- Some distractions are evil, the enticements of sin. Your flesh never gets better and the temptations will not go away in this lifetime.
- Many distractions are false, lies of the devil that he wants us to believe. Remember that he is a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44) and the accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:10). The mirage, beautiful or ugly, is just that – an imagination with no substance.
- Most distractions are good, good things or people held in the wrong place in our priorities. This is what makes them so difficult to eliminate! They are unassuming things that are unnecessary weights to us fulfilling God’s purpose (Hebrews 12:1).
I told some friends recently that at this stage in life my greatest struggle is discerning the difference between what I could do and what I should do. There is much to do. Time is limited. Energy is exhaustible. And so, again and again, I must come back to one thing: what does God want?
Everyone will have an agenda for you, including your own deceptive heart (Jeremiah 17:9). Everything will seek your attention and affection. Guard your heart and choose your priorities. Simplicity never happens on accident; it is the pursuit of a lifetime.
At this time of year many people are trying to “untangle” the intricacies of life and consider how to make life more effective in the coming year. Remember that your greatest challenge is just keeping your eyes on Christ. Only He can bring simplicity in a complicated world.