Living simply: We value uncluttered lives, which free us to love boldly, give generously, and serve joyfully.
Earlier today, I read the story in Mark 11 of Jesus preparing to enter Jerusalem on the Sunday before His death, and I found myself captivated in a new way by the willingness of the villagers to lend their colt for Jesus to ride. Did they worry about when (or whether) it would be returned? Would Jesus be too heavy a load for a colt that had never been ridden? Scripture doesn’t tell us. We are also not told how many colts the owners had. Did they have a large herd of animals, or was this their only one? What we do see here is a simple and willing response to a direct request from Jesus.
Over the past decade, my life situation has changed from that of a North
American physician’s wife to an overseas worker to a semi-retired, elder-caregiver. Whereas I used to be sensitive to using our excess in ways that honor God, I am now more concerned about having enough for day-to-day needs. Heating oil and electricity costs are going up and up; the house needs paint; the barn roof has holes in it; window screens and floor carpets are worn out. And driving to visit my grandkids is getting more and more expensive!
I know I’m not the only one with such concerns. The economic downturn has created fear and uncertainty for many more people, with loss of jobs, loss of income from investments, and loss of confidence in government and financial institutions we once thought we could trust.
It’s not surprising that many who are wealthy struggle with holding on tightly to money and possessions, but as I’m learning, it’s very easy for anyone’s life to become cluttered (consumed?) by worry about how we’re going to manage—or what further hardship the future might hold. Will we be able to put food on the table or pay the rent? Will we lose our jobs? Will we be able to send our kids to college? Will our pension fund or the Social Security system still be viable when we retire?
Yet our consuming anxiety over these questions can actually reveal what we really believe to be the sources of our stability. As one of our Zambian friends, a medical professional who came to the U.S. to attend a conference, observed, “North Americans don’t need God.” We appear to be putting our trust in our possessions, our resources, our abilities and education. This prompted me to ask the question, Where does our ultimate trust for life and well-being lie?
Jesus may not need our colts today, but He is making a direct request to us: Put away your worry and have faith in God. Jesus worked continually with His disciples to move them from the grip of fear to an attitude of faith—faith in the goodness and provision of God. We are also Christ’s disciples and need to operate from a foundation of faith, no matter what our economic situation. If we can choose to hold loosely to things, then we’ll be more able to hold tightly to God.