Chugging up the Amazon River on a medical boat, I heard God gently whisper “simplify” as I observed the lives of the river people. I saw fathers fishing with their sons in hand carved canoes, mothers cooking their daily manioc on an open fire outside their 8×10 thatched homes as their children laughed and played in the dirt. I met believers who had very little by American standards but who were enjoying loving God and serving others. Sitting on the back of the boat, I jotted down “simplify” in my journal, with a fine duck sitting beside me, tethered by a rope around his leg. The duck, soon to be dinner, was a gift of thanks to our friend Becky, a missionary nurse, for pulling an absessed tooth.
As I returned home to my busy lifestyle, I was determined to obey God’s voice and simplify our lives. Seventeen years later, this is still a work in progress. As an avid multi-tasker, I find “simplify” not a simple thing to do.
Presently I am focusing afresh. 1) I am learning to say NO to stuff. Do you ever really want something only to discover that when you purchase it, it doesn’t satisfy you very long? Instead you become aware that you not only own it but it now owns you– your money, your time, your focus.
2) I am learning to say NO to activities, a challenge for this “doer.” When asked to do good things over the years, my default answer, often spoken far too hastily, has been YES unless God says NO. Recently, I felt God prompt me to answer NO unless He says YES. I don’t respond nearly so quickly and am less prone to overcommit.
I began writing this simple blog last Friday but had to abandon it when my day wasn’t lining up with my message. This was also THE day that I got out all the bins of Christmas decorations and began planning elaborate holiday events in my head. I could picture God chuckling as He watched me try to write on simplifying while hanging Christmas decorations at the same time. It was a practical K.I.S.S. lesson.
I did note a little progress. I didn’t pull out everything in the bins and I did nix having two holiday parties before they even made it to the calendar. I realized I hadn’t arrived as I stared at the two, yes two, wall plaques and a chair pillow that shouted in bold letters, “SIMPLIFY,” but I HAD given away my other large SIMPLIFY plaque last year when I cleaned out my office
The present challenge is to keep it simple over the holidays. As I focus on finishing the first draft of my book by the end of the year, it is simple: I can’t do every good thing out there and accomplish my main task.
I wonder what my life would look like if I really internalized simplifying. I suspect that it would be richer and more satisfying. “The thief comes to rob, kill, and destroy, but I have come that you might have a rich and satisfying life.” — Jesus John 10:10
How about you, are you willing to K.I.S.S. ?