In our heart of hearts, we all long for simplicity. No one goes, “Oh, I wish my life were more complicated.” We look at lifestyles such as the Amish and even though we don’t choose it for ourselves, we know, deep down, there is something right about it. We are drawn to the wholesome, uncluttered, freedom we sense it brings. Our hearts yearn for the garden we were meant for all along.
Parenthood seems to bring it out even more. We want something better for our children than what our fast-paced, throw-away, media-centered culture offers. So we try, as much as we can, to get “back to the basics.”
While I had no idea what I was doing, I began growing a small garden along the side of our house when my kids were little. When my friends all got bread makers, so did I. Another mom and I even tried our hand at making our own cleaning products (If you cut a whole roll of paper towels in half and put it in a Tupperware of the same size, along with an inch or two of diluted Pine-Sol, it becomes homemade disinfectant wipes). Having a “Diaper Service” came into vogue as moms began using cloth diapers again. And suddenly, clean, fresh sheets began flapping in the breeze where they never had before–in my backyard. Moving toward more natural, organic living felt good. It felt right.
But now, with the glaring screens of technology stealing our real, flesh and blood life and replacing it with a complicated, time-consuming virtual one, many of us desperately crave the honest-to-goodness simplicity of life once again. But how? How do we keep this huge monster we call “modern civilization” from taking over our lives? How do we live simply in the midst of such confusing chaos?
Well, God answered my heartfelt plea to those questions this morning. But it wasn’t at all what I was expecting. Clearing away the cobwebs of our crazy, complicated culture, doesn’t have anything to do with organic living. It’s actually even more organic than that.
Simplicity starts with the spiritual.
Ezra 7:9-10 says, “The good hand of his God was upon him. For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the Lord and to practice it and to teach His statutes and ordinances to Israel.”
Ezra’s heart and mind were not cluttered up with external, physical circumstances. Israel was coming out of their 70 year captivity and he had led another group back home. The temple had been rebuilt by then but the wall lay in ruins. There was still a huge, complex job left to do. But that wasn’t what made Ezra weep, pull out his beard and tear his clothes. It was the spiritual rubble he stumbled over. And he knew what the plain-on-your-face answer was. God’s Word.
Ezra didn’t live in the physical. He lived in the spiritual. He lived smack, dab in the middle of what truly organic is. You can’t get more organic than God. For Ezra, it was that simple. And it can be that simple for us too.
The chaos of our modern lives, both inside and out, will never be solved by planting gardens, making bread and hanging sheets on the line. Focusing on the physical won’t change anything–at least not anything of true, lasting value. However, focusing on the spiritual can take our massively involved 21st century lives and infuse them with the simple sense and order we hunger for. As with Ezra, it means setting our hearts on God’s Word, committing to practice it ourselves and teaching it to others. Everything else will follow.
We can get back to the garden after all.
If you yearn for true simplicity, the kind that will change your life and the lives of those around you, wake up while it’s still dark, grab your Bible and a cup of coffee (or tea in my case!) and go organic.
“Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I’ll lift up my soul.” Psalm 143:8