One More Year of Choices
By Barbara Dahlgren
Today we have many options. Most options were probably created to make life easier, but that is not always the way it works out. Too many options can leave us confused, making decisions difficult and life complicated.
For example, just wanting a drink of water when we are out and about can be confusing. Do we drink tap water, artesian water, distilled water, purified water, spring water, mineral water, or sparkling water? Should it be plain or flavored? Let’s say we choose plain spring water. Should that spring water come from the mountains, from the valley, from Iceland, France, Italy, or Germany? And don’t get me started on what container it comes in!
This carries over into the religious community as well. In A.W. Tozer’s book The Pursuit of God, he says, “Right now we are in an age of religious complexity. The simplicity which is in Christ is rarely found among us. Instead are programs, methods, organizations, and a world of nervous activities which occupy time and attention but can never satisfy the longing of the heart.” (2 Corinthians 11:3)
Believe or not, God is about simplicity. His pleasures are simple ones. Nineteenth century English preacher Frederick William Robertson puts it this way:
“All God’s pleasures are simple ones;
the rapture of a May morning sunshine,
the stream blue and green,
the glow of good humor.”
Simple pleasures bring contentment. The world entices us into wanting more, more, more of everything. We think bigger is better and expensive is best. Sometimes less is better than more. Having less can help us focus on the truly important aspects of life without distractions. We can learn to appreciate beauty without a price tag. There is wisdom in this Thomas Fuller quote: “Better a little fire to warm us, than a great one to burn us.”
God has much to say about simple pleasures, although that exact phrase won’t be found in the Bible. He tells us to take joy in each new day. (Psalm 118:24) He emphasizes contentment. (Proverbs 30:8, 9; Hebrews 13:5) He loves unity not contentiousness. (Psalm 133:1) He wants us to be kind and tenderhearted. (Ephesians 4:32) He likes a good laugh. (Numbers 22:25-31) He encourages us to get away occasionally to regroup and replenish. (Matthew 14:23) He delights in children. (Matthew 19:14). He paints analogous pictures that bring nature alive. (Isaiah 55:12)
Consider this… God’s creation beckons us to marvel at majestic mountains, enjoy vibrant sunsets, smell fragrant roses, and calm ourselves beside still waters. You might say God did the hard work of creating all of this, so we could enjoy these simple pleasures in life.
Suggestions for practicing this choice…
Each time you see a happy, little child who is eager to laugh, learn, love, and forgive, tell yourself: Jesus told me to become like little children. This concept, like so many that God uses, is simple yet has profound meaning. (Matthew 18:3)
Take some time every day to appreciate those simple pleasures in life that God created. American writer Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “The sky is the daily bread of the eyes.”
Don’t try to muddle the simplicity of the message of Jesus. There are no hidden meanings, mysteries we can’t understand, or complicated doctrines. Jesus came to earth, He lived a perfect life, He paid the price for our sins by dying on a cross, and He victoriously rose from the grave.
Think about this…Jesus could have called the philosophers, scholars, and renowned teachers of His time to spread the gospel, but mostly He chose simple fishermen and ordinary people. (1 Corinthians 1:26, 27)
Learn to use simple explanations when talking to others and to God. Don’t try to impress with your knowledge or vocabulary. Prayers don’t need to be long and eloquent, just heartfelt. Theologian Martin Luther said, “…sometimes…the fewer the words, the better the prayer.”