One of the books that has impacted me the most is Richard Foster's Freedom of Simplicity (see sidebar). I read it a couple of years ago and am revisiting it now. The book was written several years ago and alot of the specific research and such is out of date, but the spirit of the book lives on in me forever. He addresses a topic that I have never much thought about. Simplicity. We live in the age of advancement and complexity. To hear someone speak to the other side of the spectrum is refreshing.
Nowhere is my pursuit of a simple lifestyle more challenged than at the holiday season. This is the time of year where you buy a bunch of things for people who really don't need them, and recieve a bunch of stuff we don't need. Probably the best benefactor of the entire season is corporate America whose holiday sales usually keeps them afloat.
I strive more and more to live a simple lifestyle. More and more I realize that I just don't need much to get by. So many people spend so much of their time puruing more and bigger and better and for what? They put their children in day care. They work hours and hours of overtime. They drive miles and miles to work. They own three cars. They have a ridiculous house payment. After all . . . it's the American way. And it takes alot of soul searching to read the Bible without all that weighing us down.
Take all those influences away and consider the teachings of Scripture:
- "Go and sell all your possessions to the poor" . . . and the rich young ruler went away saddened
- Following the seventh sabbath year was to be the Year of Jubilee where land was restored to its original owners, debts were canceled and, one time in each person's life, they were to be allowed a fresh start
- "I was hungry and you didn't feed me, I was thirsty and you didn't give me anything to drink, I was naked and you didn't clothe me."
- The widow gives her two mites and Jesus points to her as exemplary
Simplicity is a discipline to be admired in others. What do you need? What do I need?
Cable television? That's always the one that's fun to talk about. How badly do you need that? Or what about a television at all? Two cars? Sugar in every bite of dinner? Dessert? The list of questions goes on and on. I think simplicity isn't about attaining some "ultimate life of simplicity" but rather it is about purusing simplicity in every area: diet, clothing, domestics, church, family, work, entertainment, technology, and on and on the list goes.
I would strongly encourage anyone to read this book. If you don't have the patience for the book, just struggle through the simplicity as it relates to your life. Where can you be more simple? Where, in your life, do the excesses run? What can you weed out? What do you need to learn to live without?
Try fasting from different things. Food, a certain kind of food, television, the internet, movies, the newspaper, the news, sports (ouch, I hate to put that one in there), whatever it is that keeps you from living in simplicity.
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