Saturday, September 24, 2011

To See God: Simplicity Lived Out

Simplicity. The word rolls off the tongue beautifully and leaves a sense of calm, a glimmer of sanity in a world gone mad with overly indulgent options. I've been craving it lately, a simple life. Unsure of what it even looks like I feel myself drawn to it, needing to live without so many of the "things" that take up space in my life. But why? Why do I need to clear the space? Him. I need to see Him. I need to see more and more of Him. Because once I began to see Him, I needed less of the "things" and more of God. The vision of His glory is what our eyes were fashioned for. 

So my conviction to live more simply began a few weeks back. I'm not even sure what I would consider the catalyst, if there even was just one, but I know it began as I started to devour the Word. Yes, devour. I've never been one to find great joy in sitting down with my Bible. In fact, I admit that I have struggled to not view it as another "to-do" on my daily accruing lists. But something changed. 

Perhaps I do remember what started it after all. One morning while Zoey was taking her morning nap, I sat down at the breakfast table with Bible, journal and J.C. Ryle's "Expository Thoughts on John" in hand and found myself lacking after reading my John scripture reading and commentary for the day. I felt I needed something more, to see Him more. So I flipped to Psalms, my "go to", and came right to this verse, words dancing off the page: "My soul faints with longing for your salvation, but my hope is in your word" (Psalm 119:81). The instant my eyes flashed across "my hope is in your word" my heart was heavy. There it was - my problem, staring me in the face. My hope wasn't in his word. I didn't esteem his word enough. My life was too wound up in the here and now, the wants, always the wants. How did I miss this? But grace. The heaviness is lifted, I hear His voice. Gentle, soothing, so soothing. All I need to do is ask and it will be added to me. I need this. I want this. No more of my near-sighted, world-loving perspective. I asked to long, to faint with longing, to hope in His word, to live and breathe these fourteen words. I asked. I received. Oh, did I receive. 

Reading His word became less of a "to do" and more of a beloved time with my Father, Creator and Savior. As I read His word, He reveals more of Himself to me. I see Him. I don't know that I ever really saw Him before. But now I long to see Him. I asked to long and he gave me the longing. He wants us to long to see Him, to know Him, to love Him. And he equips us with all that we need to accomplish this. My heart, rebellious and hardened to Him by it's very nature, has become softened, filled with an urgent need to be connected to the Vine and a humbling yet joyful realization that I am the branch that dies apart from it. It's the seeing of God that has changed me. I wanted to long and He allowed me to see who He was, to feel it in the depths of my soul. Once you see Him, you can't help but long to see Him more. And He is so gracious, so loving to show us more.

But the longing for his word, for the revealed God, had to take the place of longing for anything else in my life. His grace reminds me of my present state - sinner in a sin-ridden world. Yes, I'm saved by grace, being made more like Christ each day and living in the promise of eternity worshipping God in a sinless, perfected pre-fall Eden state, but in the present, I'm a sinner in a world wrought with sin. So what is it in my life that has become a misplaced longing? The list begins. Spotless home, financial ease, perfect mother, perfect wife, productivity, better body, better everything. I lay it down. Sin. I pick it up again. Grace. I lay it back down. Everyday, I lay it back down. These things are not worthy of my longing. So I ask to long for Him, not them. And He begins to show me how.

When your view is obstructed, you must remove whatever is obstructing it to get see what you're looking at more clearly. In looking upon God, our view becomes obstructed by the world. The daily list of needs and wants, the past lack of them and the future worry about them. Whatever it is capturing our thoughts that are taking Him out of the focus have to be shed, moved out of the way in order for Him to come into focus. So He began to show me what those things were in my life. He still is. I'm well assured He still will be when I draw my last breath. Things like convenience, comfort, control. He's shedding them, little by little. Less of them, more of Him. Seeing God is simplicity lived out.

Living simply for me means getting rid of the unnecessaries. If I don't wear it, use it, or eat it I get rid of it. I buy only what I need, use as much fresh, unprocessed foods as possible and use the talents God has given me to make whatever I can for my family, including cleaning products. This is my personal conviction and I certainly don't think it applies to everyone. God shows himself to each of us through unique means. But the common denominator is simplicity. It's the shedding, stripping sometimes radical ripping of the worldly wants that keep us from what our eyes were created to view - Him.


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