Sunshine and rain in the same day resulting in green, green, and more green – the reminder that God sustains the work of His hands.
Birds in the morning and crickets at night. Guinea pigs in the grass and geckos in the corners of the house (they eat spiders) – the reminder of God’s creativity.
Speaking Pidgin. Greeting everyone by name with a hug, a handshake, and a smile – the reminder that we were created for the light of community not the darkness of anonymity.
Kids outside. Running, climbing, collecting, and laughing bringing home dirty feet and stained clothes – the reminder that the best entertainment is free.
Lousy internet, daily power outages and no two-day shipping. Christmas will come in March this year because shipping overseas takes time – the reminder that immediacy kills gratitude and waiting produces appreciation and invention.
Kitchen work. Chopping, measuring, mixing, and creating. The hunger that comes from no snacking, no junk food, no easy meals – the reminder that life doesn’t always have to be convenient.
One small store with limited options, basic food choices. No chicken in stock – the reminder that you can’t always get what you want.
Cold showers and hot nights. Temperature control at the mercy of the sun and clouds – the reminder that life doesn’t always have to be comfortable.
Hanging clothes on a line to dry and hand washing dishes. Walking dusty roads to the store, the school, and friends’ houses – the reminder that replacing machines with hands and feet is okay.
As we step back into a more basic lifestyle, I am confronted with the many reminders that simplicity offers a choice of two responses (like most things in life): to complain over the lack of options, the lack of convenience and comfort or to let the simplicity be a reminder that perhaps all those privileges aren’t in fact necessary for a good life. Paul says in Philippians that he has learned to be content in all circumstances, living on almost nothing or with everything. One is not better or worse than the other, both offer their challenges when one’s goal is to consider everything worthless compared to the value of knowing Christ. Indeed, the more we have the more challenging it is to keep those privileges in their place; the less we have the more challenging it is put off self-pity and grumbling for their lack (especially if we’ve lived with those privileges long enough to consider them rights).
In the end, in plenty or in want, we must fight to discard all things and run the race before us with intentionality and perseverance as we await our entrance to our permanent, heavenly home where treasuring Christ above all will become the all-satisfying heartbeat of our very existence. I’m thankful for the simplicity we have here, just as I was thankful for the privileges we had in our time in America, and my prayer is that we may learn the secret of contentment in both circumstances.
Convenience does not produce peace, entertainment does not produce joy, comfort does not produce contentment, and choice does not produce freedom. True peace, true joy, true contentment and true freedom can only be found in one source: Christ. And Christ is ours to treasure whether we live in a land of plenty or a land of simplicity.