This Sunday we began a new series that I am very excited about because this is a topic that I need a lot of help with in life. One of the things that we never want to communicate on Sunday mornings is that those who are delivering the message have it all together. I have more to learn when it comes wrapping my life around my big rock priorities and regulating my small rock stuff of life. So, I feel the pain of any of you who long for their life to be simpler. Both you and I can take comfort in the fact that we are not alone in this.
Pastor and researcher, Thom Rainer conducted a survey with over a thousand people. With a survey this size, the margin of error is a plus or minus 2.8 percent at the 95 percent confidence level. And Okay, unless you are a statistical nerd those numbers don’t mean a whole lot to you. In simple terms the survey was very accurate. The survey included questions about all kinds of life issues and was taken by a broad cross section of people, including both Christian and non Christian. And what did they find? This is what they said,
“we listened to thousands of hours of interviews. We looked at the lives of those who graciously participated in this study, and we saw many good intentions. We saw too many good intentions. We saw families take on activity after activity. We saw work lives that became workaholism. We saw the good become the bad because there was just too much of the good. When we concluded our study of these 1077 people we learned that what people longed for and what they in fact needed was simple—greater simplicity in their time, relationships, money and even their spiritual lives.”
They found that all the stuff, all the extras, all the filler of life made them too busy for the things that they valued as most important to them.
As I mentioned on Sunday, Jesus was an expert when it came to streamlining the complex. He said, “Love God, love neighbor.” The goal as a Christ follower is to simply do these two things. Now, lets be honest. Though Jesus’ growth plan may be easy to remember, it doesn’t mean that it is easy to do. It takes a concerted effort and a willingness to make changes.
Again, I love Brother Lawrence–a monk who practiced the spiritual discipline of peeling potatoes to the glory of God. He coined the phrase “practicing the presence of God” and he did that during the most routine parts of his day. He wrote about how he did three things to put the simple plan of loving God into action: remembering, conversing and releasing.
He said remember that God is with you at all times. And that he is there with the desire to lavish his grace on you. Second, have conversation with God. Talk to him during the most ordinary times of life. For Lawrence it doing chores in the kitchen. What do you talk about? Process some of your concerns in front of God out loud. Thank God for the blessings you have in your life–the blessings right in that moment. For you it may be when you are doing accounts receivables or changing diapers. Third he said, “Release your mistakes and sin turning toward God in all things.” remember, converse, release.
Do you want to know whether your priorities are actually at the center of your life. Look at your calendar. Look at your check book. What are you investing when it comes to time and resources towards those things that are most important.
Here’s the simple decision again for this week in order to make more time for more love in your life: I will attend one more Sunday a month in order to learn to love God and neighbor better in 2011.