Life is full of seasons other than spring, summer, fall and winter. Childhood, adolescence, and adulthood; single, dating, engaged and married. We have healthy and unhealthy seasons, ones of flourishing and of pruning, and every high and low in between. I’ve been one to say I’m in a season of waiting just as often as I say I’m in a season of going. Too often, we lose sight of the present season for looking too much on the seasons past or future. Let’s take some time this week to be honest about our seasons – mentally, spiritually, physically and emotionally – and learn to savor and soak in where we are now.
The Art of Simplicity
Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.
If you search the phrase “simplify life” on Google or Pinterest, there will be no shortage of websites and blog posts that give you a list of things to do to find the simplicity in whatever area of life you’re in. It’s pretty obvious that simplicity is something that everyone is looking for, and as believers, we should actually consider joining the crowd for this one.
I remember listening to a sermon at some point in my life where the speaker showed a picture of what looked like an overgrown bush. It looked as if it was dying – the branches looked dry and the leaves were yellowed and quickly turning brown, and the few fruits hanging on looked like they would shrivel up at any second. Then he showed us a different picture of a vineyard. The leaves were green and the grapes were beautiful. I was shocked to find out that those pictures were from the same exact place. The difference was in the way they came to life: the first was allowed to live overwhelmed by buds and branches and new growth, someone never choosing what was most important and cutting back the rest. The second was intentionally cut away in order to allow the best to grow more.
Too often, our lives look like the overgrown mess. We feel like we have to do so many things and we have so many different branches and buds of obligations and service demanding our attention that they all suffer. We want to volunteer, we want to be a part of this Bible study and lead that small group. We commit to taking on another project at work, we want to go on this mission trip and that service project – all because these things are good. They are good, but oftentimes, the “good” is the enemy of the “best.”
Just like a plant with too many buds and branches cannot possibly sustain all of them, so are our lives if we’re overloaded with commitments. Some buds have to die and some have to be intentionally cut away or pruned in order for the most important ones to flourish. Simplification may look at first like death, but it brings greater and healthier growth than any other option.
I’ve had to learn to declutter my life, and I’ll continue having to learn to declutter my life as seasons change. All that a cluttered, overloaded life does is distract me from what should be most important and central: Jesus Christ.
We are called to much, yes, but we are not called to everything. Remembering this frees us to live fully where God places us.
It may look like simplifying your closet, your expenses, your appointment book or your list of ministry commitments, but I encourage you to spend some time asking the Lord what simplification looks like for you in this season.