Friday, June 1, 2018

Devotionals for the Heart: Simplicity

On Simplicity
A devotional by Lisa Lickel

“The best way of doing good that I can devise is to make myself an efficient member of society and it is obvious that if every man did this there would be very little want to for the professional philanthropist. It is not help that men need most, but opportunity.” 

–William Dawson, Quest for the Simple Life

“Simplicity…has little to do with how many things you own and everything to do with not letting your possessions own you.” – Robert Smith

When my husband and I were finally ready to show our home to real estate agents, the one we signed with shook his head when he saw our basement. “You guys are, like, minimalists! Look, there’s nothing here.”

Of course our garage and driveway were fairly decked out with rummage—the kids’ old weight bench, a humongous freezer which a farmer around the corner came to buy, some old chairs that had actually been left by the previous owner thirty years earlier.

My husband was quite put out. “I already moved at least ten carloads of stuff out to our new place,” he said. Well, yeah...canning jars, wood, and tools from the garage, sleds, and more wood. Stuff I wouldn’t know how to use. Not stuff from inside the house.

I’m not a packrat (books don’t count). Oh, I still have a chest of drawers full of craft things I thought I might like to do, but as the years pass, I’m emptying those drawers, too. Baby and childhood mementos are going to the grandkids. Even the loss of things we stored that didn’t survive a damp summer didn’t really bother me when we finally moved into our new home. As I explore a renewal of my faith practices, this discipline of simplicity comes fairly easily. I’m drifting closer to God, further from anxiety over things that are out of my control. Building a new house can do that. I need to dig deeper into what “living simply” means.

Our possessions are a reflection of our characters. Are we determined to make such a comfortable life here on earth that heaven doesn’t seem better? I love Richard Foster’s take. He said, “Because we lack a divine center our need for security has led us into an insane attachment to things. We really must understand that the lust for affluence in contemporary society is psychotic. It is psychotic because it has completely lost touch with reality. We crave things we neither need nor enjoy.”

I may not be a packrat, but I freely confess to the above psychosis. I bought an entire series of one of my favorite television shows…two years ago…that I haven’t opened. Please don’t hate me.

Jesus basically calls wealth an idol, and cheerfully condemned the idle rich. He preached about abundant possessions—treasure that would steal our hearts—in the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus instead asks his followers to give to those in need. All the time. Everything we “own.”

Everything we are.


So how do I reconcile that ideal with the reality of contemporary living? We don’t need to feel guilty about being comfortable. What we can do to reconcile how we survive is to consider what we purchase, if it’s ethically produced and delivered. Ask, am I addicted to acquiring? Do I give as often or more than I receive? Those answers reveal our core of self and faith.

My Prayer: Lord, I want to live for you. Help me appreciate and be content with what you have given me, and be resourceful in the future. Amen.

Author Bio: 
Lisa Lickel is a Wisconsin writer who lives in the rolling hills of western Wisconsin. 

A multi-published and award-winning novelist, she also writes short stories and radio theater, is an avid book reviewer, blogger, a freelance editor, and workshop leader. 

She is a member of Chicago Writers Association and part of Novel-in-Progress Bookcamp and Writing Retreat, Inc., mentoring writers from across the US and Canada.

Connect with Lisa:
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