Simplicity And “Stuff”
I have been thinking a great deal about simplicity these last couple of weeks. You see, Judy and I invested in a new boat ( Tracker – pro choice – v-16sc). This boat and the lift that will be needed to care for the boat has complicated my life. I consider Judy and I a “monk and a nun” here on the lake. I would be content with my 14′, 1973 crestline (with 15 horse Evinrude). But after a “family council” it was decided that this would be a great addition to the lake experience for the whole family. So I have been on a crash course regarding boat ownership and management. The words of the 19th century Shaker hymn reminds us of the call to the good life, full of joy. “Tis a gift to be simple, ’tis a gift to be free, ’tis a gift to come down where we ought to be.” The challenge for me is to have “stuff” while “coming down where I ought be”, that is, content with my life. So what am I learning about simplicity? First, I have been thinking about lifestyle. Should we invest in this boat? How will this look on the lake – a monk riding a tracker? How will I take care of this new investment? Men, having a contented, grateful and joyful lifestyle is not easy to maintain in our materialistic culture. Men seem to struggle with this when it comes to “stuff” in their lives. Each of us has to come before the Lord with “open hands” when it comes to our finances and possessions. Only you know what is right for you. It will be different for each man. We can come to peace regarding a godly lifestyle, while still enjoying what God has given us. It will not be easy since we can easily be envious, while making comparisons. Secondly, I am seeing how “stuff” can complicated one’s life. Giving up a boat that takes little time and attention for a new and bigger boat has made my life complicated, since I haven’t thought about maintaining and using a better boat. It has caused me worry, frustration, and certainly some preoccupation. In other words, it caused my mind and attention to be focused on “stuff” rather then on the Lord. Stuff can easily take time, talent and resources that focus more on self then God. I justify my new “stuff” based on the family experience on the lake as being an investment in the future for my family. Each of us have to know before the Lord how much “stuff” is acceptable for our lifestyle. Remember each will be different. There are good Christian guys, for example, who have much more “fishing and hunting stuff” then I do. Thirdly, contentment is vital in our walk with Jesus. Contentment is being at peace with your lifestyle. Paul put it this way, “I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’ve just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy, whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am” (Phil. 4:11-13 – The Message). Contentment is having a satisfied heart, a restful soul, and a grateful spirit. There is joy in knowing we have “enough” no matter how much or little we have. You will have to continually monitor your own heart, to see that your “stuff” does not become a kind of idol that you cannot do without. Remember to live with open hands and not a closed fist. Your stuff will not make you happy. Happiness is found in being content in the Lord and his will for you.