I am craving simple. Are you? We are inundated with information at rapid speeds. We literally cannot retain it all. There are too many choices for EVERYTHING. From paint colors, coffee drinks, schools, and the list goes on. Emails and texts are constantly interrupting us. We live in a time where you have to be intentional to NOT overstimulate and overschedule your life, and to constantly adjust and set boundaries. I find myself frequently needing space to think, to breathe, to be with God. And having to fight to make time for this.
I was recently at our local grocery store picking up water bottles for an event at our church. The alarms were blaring. I began to look for the employees to see if it was safe to enter because I thought surely they were doing a fire drill. The workers were calm. They were on their phones oblivious to the piercing noise. Shoppers were casually strolling through the store. But I needed the waters so I quickly grabbed a cart and pulled out my list. I started wondering am I the only one who hears this? What is going on? How is everyone acting so chill? The siren lasted for probably 5 more full minutes then finally stopped. I couldn’t help but think, is this how God feels sometimes? He’s blasting sirens in our lives so loud to notice Him, to speak to us, to use us, to love us. And we just keep looking at our phones, running our errands, absorbed with ourselves swept up in the distractions of life. Yet there I was, I had just joined the crowd too. Is that what we do? Are we aware of Him crying out to us yet stay blissfully ignorant in the busyness of our day to day? Dear Jesus, please don’t let that be me.
Simplify everywhere you can. Or maybe arrange your schedule to finally do the thing that you feel God has laid on your heart. Carve out space for your marriage, kids, prayer, family, personal devotions and to just BE with God. Pray about when to say yes and when to say no. Ask God to help you prioritize your life. Sometimes just being present IS being productive. I know that is so much easier said than done. When I was a brand new sleep deprived mom, I was struggling where to fit in devotions but also knew I desperately needed it. So I bought a simple devotional and asked God to help me make time in my new season for Him. I can’t tell you how many times God spoke right to me through that book. He was ready and waiting to love me, speak to me, and encourage my heart each and every time.
1 Thesalonians 4:11-12 says this...” and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, 12 so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody”
Miriam Webster dictionary defines ambition as “an ardent desire for rank, fame, or power; a desire to achieve a particular end.” This is so ironic because God says to “make it your ambition to lead a quiet life”. Being ambitious to lead a quiet life is pretty much the exact opposite of being ambitious to achieve fame. He then goes on to say we should mind our own business! Does leading a quiet life and minding our own business sound like 2 things that we do well as a society today? Or hardly at all? They are both counter cultural to say the least.
This is not a blog post of how to simplify your life in 3 easy steps. But rather encourage us to dig deep and think about what we have allowed to take root in our lives that may be interrupting God's best for us. My family is not immune from having obligations that make us busy. However, I strongly believe the need to prove our worth to others is one of the biggest driving forces behind us leading such busy and ultimately distracted lives. There has been a shift in society that makes you feel as if your life should be producing something that is visibly noticed by others. It’s no secret social media fosters envy and comparison. We seek applause and acclaim. When in reality, the majority of our lives are lived behind the scenes in the mundane, ordinary struggles and routines.
He sees us in every moment of every day. He sees the fruit in your life. He sees you on your good days and on your worst. When did this become not enough for us? Isn’t God the one who we are living for anyways? What are we trying to prove?
Perhaps the most convicting portion is the last part where God says “so that our daily life may win the respect of outsiders and you will not be dependent on anybody.” Those who don’t know Jesus can see right through ambitious efforts for fame. He reminds us that people will respect you if they see a more genuine and quiet life. Lastly, he urges us not to be dependent on anybody but Him! We have become dependent on approval from others rather than seeking his approval alone.
I long to live my life with no desire for acclaim and no fear of others' opinion. To be more intentional with my time and efforts. When you are striving to show something for your days to others, you’ll always end up falling short. Whatever it is that is blaring loud in your mind and heart, don’t let it distract you. Our homes and personal relationships with God are worth it. And while it might be hard, our spiritual lives and the future of our families depend on it.
Jesus, help me to dig deep and search in every crevice of my heart and mind for the things I’ve allowed in my life that are loud and distracting me from you. Give me the strength and boldness to make tough choices to simplify my life and to only seek approval from you and you alone. Help me to be more intentional with my time and help all my ambition to lead me to a quiet life that pleases you. In Jesus Name, Amen.
Rachel Anderson lives in Chattanooga TN with her husband Drew and their 2 precious boys Clyde & Peter. They recently planted River Hills, a new church in the North Chattanooga area. They also own a small business, Design Build Chattanooga. Her passions are Jesus, her family, and championing other parents to put God first in their homes. She loves reading, the Summer, and hiking!