Amy's husband over at Amy's Humble Musings had an excellent article last Friday on living a simpler life. http://www.humblemusings.com/ Regarding Christians embracing simplicity, he says "The Christian must be guided by a more substantial and all-encompassing reason for doing everything he does. Thus, the greatest motive for pursuing simplicity is not doing good to others, not being good stewards of God’s creation, or avoiding the bad of the world. The greatest motive is embracing the purpose for which God made us and reflecting the image in which He made us." I thought that was an excellent comment. The simple life for the Christian is not an exact science. Each one of us is different, and God has a different purpose for each of our lives. What brings a simpler life to me may not bring a simpler life for you. My idea of simple may stress you out if that's not God's plan for you! I can't help but wonder though if the path to a simpler life for everyone begins with one simple word. Contentment. It's taken me quite a while to arrive at this place, and it can still be a struggle at times. In the past, we found ourselves consumed with working towards that perfect, bigger home and driving that perfect vehicle. Those things just don't matter now. Yes, I would like for us to eventually move somewhere with more privacy and land for animals and gardening. That is part of my idea of having a simpler life. But God is not allowing that for us right now, and I'm okay with that. He may never allow it, but I know that He knows what is best for us. It's our job to be happy where we're at and make the best of whatever situation we're in. You can't wait on the simpler life to just arrive. You have to live it right where you are. How do we become content and "embrace the purpose for which God made us and reflect the image in which He made us?" First of all, we have to let go of things of this world - the things we want and are spending countless hours working for and maybe even neglecting our families in the process. If there is anything that is coming between us and God, we have to get it out of the way. If you have a problem wanting everything you see on TV and in magazines, quit watching TV and reading the magazines. A few years ago, I would receive mail order clothing catalogs and want everything on every page. This would lead me to either feel bad that I couldn't have everything or I would order things that I didn't really need. I wasn't being content. Now the catalogs go directly from the mailbox to the trash. It's not a problem anymore.
What about our children? We worry that they won't be happy unless they have this toy or that toy. After some inspiration from Camilla Anderson (she has many excellent articles on her blog) http://www.homeschoolblogger.com/camillaanderson/ , I began cleaning out the toy boxes a few months ago. I've been doing it little by little. I clean them out and get rid of a few things. (They never even notice.) A few weeks later, I do it again. We're down to two toy boxes in our basement play room and a couple of boxes upstairs. They still rarely play with what is left. When they play, they use their imagination. For example, they set up a doctor's office and pretend they're the front-office staff. They use real things around the house. Or they do things like this.... I took down Amelia's baby bed over the weekend, and the mattress was in the dining room. They got the idea to slide down the basement steps on it, and we've had our own Six Flags around here for the past two days. We shouldn't fall for the lie that our children need all those "things" to be happy. Haven't you always heard they would rather just play with the box anyway?? All these things do is clutter up our home and take away from our contentment! (I'm certainly not saying we'll never buy our children anything again or do away with Christmas and birthday presents. It's just important to be careful in this area and not overdo. If they can learn to be content at a young age, it will make their adult life much easier.)
I could come up with many more examples, but bottom line, if there is any "thing" keeping you from seeing God fully in your life, get rid of it (or the idea of it). That is the first step to being content. I think you need to be content to be able to hear everything God wants to say to you. I'm not all the way there yet, but that is definitely what I am working towards. It is absolutely freeing!
I Timothy 6:6-8 - But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.