Top Ten Signs Your Life is Too Complicated
5. Even with a hands-free phone, you have so many gadgets going you still have to drive with your knees.
4. Avril Lavigne is now dedicating her songs to you (“Why’d You Have to Go and Make Things So Complicated?”
3. Lining up your busy schedules has limited your family summer vacation to Thursday, August 14, from 2-3pm.
2. Your doctor reminds you to get eight hours of sleep every day. You want to know if that includes time spent napping at red lights
1. Your face looks like your driver’s license picture.
Life is complicated. My life is complex, sometimes convoluted. So, how can I simplify things?
Katharine Fullerton Gerould added, “Simplicity is an acquired taste. Mankind, left free, instinctively complicates life.”
Tolstoy put it this way, “There is no greatness where there is no simplicity.”
How can we find greatness, fight the complexity that invades life? How can we simply simplify things?
One character from the Bible exemplifies simplicity. Mary, the sister of Martha and brother of Lazarus boiled life down to, as Jesus put it, “only one thing”--Luke 10:42
What did she do? What can we do?
Mary went to Jesus’ feet. The “one thing” Mary did, over and over again, when she popped up in the Bible accounts, was go to Jesus feet.
“Mary …sat at the Lord’s feet.”--Luke 10:39
Whether it was during that classic Mary vs. Martha struggle, or in the midst of the crisis with her brother’s death, or at a party with Jesus’ followers, she was always simplifying things by going to Jesus’ feet.
So, to simplify my life I simply need to go to Jesus’ feet. But what do I do when I’m there?
Let’s follow Mary’s example.
“Mary …sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he said.”--Luke 10:39
A husband and wife were at a party chatting with some friends when the subject of marriage counseling came up. "Oh, we'll never need that. My husband and I have a great relationship," the wife explained. "He was a communications major in college, and I majored in theater arts.
He communicates really well, and I just act as if I'm listening."
Mary actually listened. Her life was simple because instead of listening to everyone else, she sat at Jesus’ feet and listened to him. Her sister, Martha was worried and distracted by many things--she was trying to listen to everything. Mary simplified things.
“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.”--Hans Hofmann
Frederick Faber made me think when he wrote, “There is hardly ever a complete silence in our soul. God is whispering to us incessantly. Whenever the sounds of the world die out in the soul, or sink low, then we hear these whisperings of God. He is always whispering to us, only we do not always hear, because of the noise, hurry, and distraction which life causes as it rushes on.”
Simplicity is listening to God first.
When Lazarus got sick, Mary (and Martha) responded by praying.
“A man named Lazarus was sick. He lived in Bethany with his sisters, Mary and Martha. This is the Mary who later poured the expensive perfume on the Lord’s feet and wiped them with her hair. Her brother, Lazarus, was sick. So the two sisters sent a message to Jesus telling him, ‘Lord, your dear friend is very sick…’”--John 11:1-3
Mary simplified things during a major crisis by sending a message to Jesus. Then Jesus showed up, and Mary went to his feet:
“When Mary… saw Jesus, she fell at his feet and said, ‘Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.’ When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him, and he was deeply troubled. ‘Where have you put him?’ he asked them. They told him, ‘Lord, come and see.’ Then Jesus wept… Then Jesus shouted, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ And the dead man came out.’.”--John 11:32-35, 44
Simplicity is going to Jesus’ feet in prayer. If he handled the death thing for Lazarus’ family, he can handle my stuff.
“Six days before the Passover celebration began, Jesus arrived in Bethany, the home of Lazarus—the man he had raised from the dead. A dinner was prepared in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, and Lazarus was among those who ate with him. Then Mary took a twelve-ounce jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard, and she anointed Jesus’ feet with it, wiping his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance.’”--John 12:1-3
Again with the feet thing. There’s a party, so what does Mary do? She goes to Jesus’ feet and serves him. She didn’t get caught up in the preparations, and distractions and commotion--and maybe Martha was upset again. Mary went to Jesus’ feet and served him.
The Mary stories show clear difference in serving styles. We can serve out of selfishness, with our eyes on ourselves--we’ve got our tasks, our preparations, our stuff: “Lord, tell my sister to help ME.”--Luke 10:40 Or we can serve with our eyes on Jesus--serving for him.
We can serve, having been with Jesus, or serve, having not been with Jesus. There are distinct styles. Mary provides a great example, and a great challenge--Am I serving at Jesus’ feet or just trying to get my stuff done?
Then Mary took a twelve-ounce jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard, and she anointed Jesus’ feet with it, wiping his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance. But Judas Iscariot, the disciple who would soon betray him, said, ‘That perfume was worth a year’s wages. It should have been sold and the money given to the poor.’ Not that he cared for the poor—he was a thief, and since he was in charge of the disciples’ money, he often stole some for himself. Jesus replied, ‘Leave her alone. She did this in preparation for my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.’”--John 12:4-8
Mary was at Jesus’ feet, giving.
Charles Dudley Warner wrote, “Simplicity is making the journey of this life with just enough baggage.”
Simplicity is going to Jesus feet and giving to him. It is disregarding the opposition, it is realizing he deserves the best and our best. And it is giving it to him.
A great way to simplify things is get rid of much of that stuff that is complicating things. Give
Some amazing stuff happened when Mary went to Jesus’ feet--she had a profound effect on others.
“… So Mary immediately went to him… When the people who were at the house consoling Mary saw her leave so hastily, they assumed she was going to Lazarus’s grave to weep. So they followed her there. …Many of the people who were with Mary believed in Jesus when they saw this happen.”--John 11:29-45
We really want our lives to count. But it doesn’t have to be complicated. When we sit at Jesus’ feet we’re empowered to influence others.
Scott Adams, the “Dilbert” creator, admitted, “You don't have to be a ‘person of influence’ to be influential. In fact, the most influential people in my life are probably not even aware of the things they've taught me.”
The biggest difference I can make is not through crazy, sophisticated schemes—it’s through simply going to Jesus’ feet. Others will be influenced.
Life is complicated, but it doesn’t have to be too complicated. Let’s simplify things and go to Jesus.