In an effort to pursue God by simplifying life, I’m trying to learn how to KISS. By that I mean I want to live my life by the KISS principle: Keep It Simple Steve. I’m working on this but it is harder than it sounds.
At the end of the year, many Christians, brimming with optimism and motivation, assess their walk with Christ and resolve to turn over a new leaf by cultivating their spiritual life. Sadly for many, the leaf wilts, the resolution dissolves, and the motivation stalls as their lives become complicated.
Why do some committed Christians find having quality time with the Lord and keeping it simple so difficult?
In his book So, You Want to Be Like Christ? Chuck pinpoints one reason why intimacy with God is such a struggle: our lives are too cluttered. More specifically, our time and our minds are filled with pursuits, activities, amusements, and commitments making it almost impossible to de-clutter. If we want to pursue God we need to be able to actually do what God says when he commands, “Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act,”(Psalm 37:7) and “Be still, and know that I am God,” (Psalm 46:10). Here’s a test to see if you need to de-clutter your mind: try and sit before God in silence for two whole minutes—not prayer, mental gymnastics, or reviewing your to-do list, just silence.
De-cluttering and simplifying life to pursue God is not easy. It’s contrary to our nature—we are material people living in a material world. It’s contrary to a culture consumed with everything except God. Simplifying is hard because sometimes good is the enemy of best. Unknowingly, we may have been deceived into believing the lie that these things keeping us from simplicity and devotion to Jesus are things that will give us satisfaction and make us happy. But compared to knowing God, these are shallow, trivial pursuits.
Simplifying life begins with changing our priorities. This is a spiritual discipline that takes time to implement and diligence to maintain. The reason for de-cluttering is the reward of freeing up time and mental space to pursue God in earnest.
What are your goals for the new year? Here’s my condensed version of spiritual de-cluttering to help us pursue God by simplifying life.
The first step is recognizing the problem of clutter. Acknowledge that complexity in your life keeps you from pursuing God and knowing Him more deeply. Admit that the stuff around you is not what brings true fulfilment. Only knowing Jesus can.
It’s important to prioritize your time with God and to reaffirm it daily. Reaffirm that the value of knowing Jesus far outweighs anything else in this world. Restate your goal of de-cluttering and focus on deeper intimacy with the Lord.
Tidy and remove the physical clutter that surrounds you in your work and living space. It requires too much of your time, energy, and money. Purge paper daily.
Even good things can become the enemy of the best things because they require our mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual energy, leaving nothing to devote to Christ. Reduce the activities that make you too busy for God.
This means saying “no” more often, even to good things. Stay mindful when shopping not to buy more than is essential. Delay gratification. Many times our lives are full of clutter because when we want something we immediately go out and get it. We don’t stop to ask, is there another way to accomplish this same goal? Do I need to buy instead of borrow or rent?
At least one day in seven. The Lord gave us the principle of resting with the Sabbath. Implementing this principle by not engaging in things you do other days of the week will simplify your life. Learn to think of rest as an activity.
Focus your attention on one thing at a time. When we are multi-tasking—doing more than one thing at a time—it creates a sense of complexity within us. This is because we are not truly present in a given task, conversation, or project. A simplified life is achieved in part when we are able to devote ourselves to one thing at a time.
Pursuing God in a greater way in this coming year will probably mean we have to let go of other things. I suggest de-cluttering and joining me in learning how to KISS.