In asking you to make room in your life for silence and solitude, I know that I am asking for something very important: your time. We only have so much of it, and for most of us, our schedule is completely packed if not over full already. Today we’re going to look at a spiritual discipline that will help us with that, the discipline of simplicity. Yes, that means letting go of some things in your life. And I know you don’t want to. I don’t either. But today we’re talking about letting go of less valuable things in our lives to make room for things that are more valuable.
Let’s take our stomachs as an example. Think of your favorite food. We’ll call that #1. Then think of your least favorite food. That’s #3. Then think of something in the middle. Let’s see, what could we call something in the middle of 1 and 3… How about #2? Now there’s only so much room in your stomach. Right now you have it as full as it could possibly be with some of #1, some #2, and some #3. That’s just not smart. We need to at least be moderately intelligent and get the least favorite out of the picture altogether. It’s just wasting space. But I believe that we also need to examine our lives and minimize the #2 as well. We have a lot of good things in our lives that cause the best things to suffer. That’s not a good decision.
We worry so much about the cost of what we’re losing. We overvalue things that only have mediocre importance to us. We are afraid to let go. But I don’t think we realize the cost we are experiencing by those things taking up mediocre space in our lives that could have been magnificent. In spiritual terms, we worry so much about the cost of discipleship that we never count the cost of nondiscipleship. Dallas Willard says it like this, “Nondiscipleship costs abiding peace, a life penetrated throughout by love, faith that sees everything in light of God’s overriding governance for good, hopefulness that stands firm in the most discouraging of circumstances, power to do what is right and withstand the forces of evil. In short, it costs exactly that abundance of life Jesus said He came to bring.”
Make a list of the top 5 priorities in your life. Really. Stop and do it. At least make the list in your head.
Now make a second list of the top 5 things you spend your time doing. What actually fills up your life. Where do you invest your energy?
For most of us, those two lists have hardly anything in common. So I had to learn to start applying my priorities. If those were really the most important, then I had to start acting like that. And then just figure out how to make that work. Providing for my kids is really important to me. But it’s not nearly as important as spending time with them, being their dad, loving them. So while I could definitely provide more for them by being away more and playing more concerts, I have chosen to stay home as much as I can while still paying our bills. We try to make simpler fiscal choices so our financial need is less which means I can meet more of the emotional needs of my family, merely by being present. It doesn’t mean that traveling is evil. It’s not. But being a dad is more important, so I apply my priorities and simplify my schedule.
I believe that living a life of simplicity is merely living a life of priority. We do the things that are important to us and allow that to determine what our lives and schedules look like.