by Pastor Mark Shupe
My wife’s grandmother, June Craig, passed away in 2010 at the ripe old age of 100. Mrs. Craig had 17 grandchildren and 40 great-grandchildren and was still living at her home when she fell, broke her hip and died a few days later from complications from the pain medicine. She lived a full life and a very simple life that provides some timely reminders for all of us today as we try to navigate our fast-paced and often out of control journey through life.
Mrs. Craig lived in the same house for 79 years, a small three-bedroom ranch-style brick home in Norfolk, VA that was built by her husband in 1931. The house had one bathroom, no shower, and a free-standing bathtub. There was no central air conditioning for the hot and muggy VA summers, just a few window units that barely cooled the house. As Mrs. Craig often said, “I want God’s air moving around in my house.”
She never enjoyed the benefits of any modern-day appliances – no fancy stove or refrigerator, no upgraded countertops (she barely had any countertop space in her small kitchen), not even a dishwasher. For years her TV was barely visible through the snow and static on her screen until finally near the end of her life she broke down and got a new TV and cable for the first time.
Mrs. Craig lived on a rather large lot where she kept a garden and up to the last few years of her life even cut her own grass. She loved to cook and was known for her famous fried apple pies. She never had a driver’s license and did not drive a vehicle (we found out after she died that she once tried to drive, but ran into the side of her house, so that was the end of her driving). Her financial investments consisted of bank savings accounts and CD’s and she never had any money in the stock market. Amazingly, she never owned a computer or cell phone. That alone might explain why she lived to be 100!
Her life was not an easy one as she survived The Great Depression, two World Wars, the deaths of her husband, two of her children, and many of her friends (she outlived them all). She arguably experienced more change, fear, heartache, and anxiety in a lifetime than people of any other time period. Yet, she somehow seemed to keep everything in perspective, always appearing calm, not bent out of shape, not overly stressed or worried, very set in her ways – but full of contentment. She lived a simple life.
We live in a different world than Mrs. Craig experienced. However, the appeal and maybe even call to experience the simplicity and refreshment she regularly tapped into seems to remain the same. It seems to be a value that Jesus Himself espoused and modeled for us.
So, in the midst of our fast-paced, chaotic, consumer-driven, overloaded and ever-changing technological world that we find ourselves in today, what does a simple life look like?
There is a verse in the Bible that may very well hold the key to experiencing the simplicity of life that God desires for us. Psalm 46:10 –
“Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Some Bible translations say, “Be still and know that I am God.”
Let’s unpack this verse to better understand its application to our lives today. “Cease striving” means to forsake, to relax, to become slack. It also means to let go or to vacate. The phrase literally means to let go of, vacate and forsake our need or desire to be God. We are to let God be God. We are to submit our will to His will and allow God to reign and be in control of our lives. As one author said, “there is a God and you are not Him!”
The simplicity of Life is to submit our hearts and our wills to the loving leadership of God – let Him lead on the dance floor of life. We are to relax in His loving leading of our lives. We are not to fight against Him, we are not to resist Him, and as much as we want to. We are not to take control of areas of our life that we were never intended to have control of.
Author Philip Yancey puts it this way:
“To let God be God, of course, means climbing down from my own executive chair of control. I must uncreate the world I have so carefully fashioned to further my ends and advance my cause.” – Grace Notes: Daily Readings with Philip Yancey.
When we simply allow God to be God, we are exhibiting a simple love for Him as we seek to submit, surrender, and cooperate with His plans and desires for our life. And when we do so, we live simple lives full of contentment.