“What have you got to lose?” That was a question asked of me years ago by a wise and caring friend when I was telling her that I wanted to simplify my life and I meant…. radically simplify. I wanted to cut some things out of my calendar, wanted to get rid of so much “stuff” that was all up in my house, and I wanted to make some changes in my life that would actually give me pockets of time that were not “allotted” to something that required me to be intentionally productive…you know what I mean? As I sat there pouring out my heart to her in how I just wanted to restructure my days, with all the serenity in the world she calmly looked me in the eyes and said,
“What have you got to lose?”
You know, as I’m sitting here typing on this keyboard, there is a sun rising to my right side…it’s rising in the eastern sky as it always does, right on time. And the faithfulness of that sunrise always reminds me of this –
Girl, you got you a new day! Yesterday is over. Tomorrow is not yet here, but today is NOW! And it’s a brand new beginning.
You see, we don’t have to “hit repeat.” Today is a GREAT day for a NEW BEGINNING! As awkward as it may feel since it is not the 1st of the month and it’s not the 1st day of the week. It’s simply “a day” smack dab in the middle of our week, yet it is still a great “Start Now Day.” Why? Because procrastinating never paves the way to simplicity or productivity.
Here’s challenge –
“What have you got to lose?”
If you started today, right now, in this moment, as you are reading this little blog, what would happen if you made a decision to really simplify your life. And yes, I’m talking radically?
Chip and Joanna Gaines have gone 14 years with no TV in their home. Radical decision? It seems to us that way. But to them … it’s just “how they live.”
Rip and I do not drink alcohol. Radical decision? To some it may seem that way, but to us … it’s just “how we live.”
To leave a crowd of friends, to walk away from a huge ministry opportunity, to go get in a boat just to pray? Radical decision? To some it may seem that way, but to Jesus … it was just “how He lived.”
Waking up every single day (Sunday to Sunday) for years and years to write and post a daily devotion to encourage people? And never missing a day? Seem far-fetched? Radical decision? To some it may seem that way, but not to Libby Williams. It’s just … “how she lives.”
Waking up to traveling from one city to another, to one people group to another, to repeat the same message – the gospel message – of Jesus Christ year after year – day after day. Seem like a radical way to live? Apostle Paul didn’t see it that way. To him it’s just … “how he lived.”
How do you live?
No apologies necessary, no need to explain, no need to defend, no need to change. It’s just … “how you live.”
Why ARE you here?
What is it about your life that God has called you to in living out before others, but yet it’s … just the way you live?
Why do you think the Lord has you right here on this earth for today?
(Please do not read any more until you give that one question some real thought.)
Is it to keep moving in the same daily direction of same ole’ same ole’? Is it to keep holding on to those grudges, to wallow in self-pity, to bathe in bitterness, to build your own dreams, grow your own bank accounts, to establish your reputation, to feel lonely, to fear, to fret, to fake it, or to stay so busy that you don’t have a moment to feel hurt, pain or to grieve?
Why are YOU here?
What does God have in mind for you? Want to accomplish through you? What does God want you to know about Him that will totally change the course of your life? Why does He want YOU to know Him so intimately? Why did He say to you, so personally “For I know the plans I have for YOU.” (Jeremiah 29:11) Why did He wake you up this morning?
Why are you HERE?
At this time and point and place of your life?
If you were to radically simplify your life, what would happen next? Would you feel unproductive? Would you be afraid of what feels like “blank spaces” in your life and want to quickly fill them in? A little nervous about what “family” may think, or how your best friend just might not get you? Type A people associate “doing” as being productive. But that’s not true.
True productivity is birthed from purpose and passion.
So, what are these 4 Small Steps to Simplifying Your Life?
- Pray – Begin each day of your life with prayer. One of the smallest, yet most profound steps we can take in simplifying our life is in the way of prayer. Don’t begin your day without it. Wake up earlier. Set that clock for an earlier time and begin your day in prayer. Praying always brings life into focus. It brings your life into step with the God of peace, order, organization, beauty, rest and work. Prayer IS the first step to simplifying our days like nothing else we can do. If you want to know more about becoming a woman of prayer, I would encourage you to read and work through Cynthia Heald’s book, “Becoming a Woman of Prayer.” If you are a man and want to know more about prayer, Timothy Keller’s book, “Prayer” is a great resource.
2. Read God’s Word daily – This is Step 2 towards simplifying your life but it really hinges on the same door as Step 1. Starting in Genesis, Rip’s routine has been to get up every. single. morning. (never misses a morning and hasn’t since he started this in February of 2017), and read in his bible. As I sit in my bathtub and look at his bible that stays placed on top of a small table, right outside the potty room, I see the ribbon of his Bible getting further and further down through the pages. I just love watching that ribbon get lower and lower and lower!!
Because he simplified his life by adding this ONE principle (or habit) to his morning – his daily bible reading with God – I have seen first hand the blessings of God on his life as a result!! Yes, while sitting on top of a closed toilet seat that has a towel for a cushion, he reads. I asked him, “You want to read in the den or kitchen where it’s more comfortable?” And he said, “No, I like shutting the door and sitting in there because it’s a small place and there are no distractions.”
BUT what is really amazing to see is how Rip is learning more and more about his God. Truths about God’s nature and ways are becoming more clear to him and simplified. What used to be confusing or unknown to Rip, is now becoming more simple in truth and application.
I asked him, “So what have you learned about God and His character from Genesis to 1 Samuel 20?” He said, “That He doesn’t mess around. He means what He says. And I don’t think it’s going to be that hard from Him to say, ‘Depart from Me, I never knew you,’ when He says that to people He never knew.” I asked him why he felt that way. And he told me, “Because baby, He gives chances after chances after chances, over and over again. He keeps opportunities in front of people to choose Him. And when it gets to that point where He says that, I used to picture it as a hard thing to say, but He is a just God, too, and I don’t think it will be as difficult as I always imagined. At that point, they would have lived a lifetime turning down those opportunities of knowing Him.”
Reading God’s Word daily simplifies your life in the most powerful way because it draws you closer to the heart of God,
… but it also draws you into a deeper desire to obey Him. To realize your life is not a matter of “living the dream,” but it’s a long road of obedience in the direction of His divine will. Not the will and plans of our own. If you want to really simplify your life, get to know God through His Word. We daily read our emails, our newspapers, social media posts and texting all day long…can we take this simple step in reading God’s word daily, too?
3. Stop over-loading your Calendar – Learn to say one of the most powerful words in the English language – NO. We need to learn the worth of that one word! It will keep us from a tangled mess of activities that tend to drain our energies like nothing else. Let go of all the “so much” that you have on your calendar. Really purge it down because when you do, you start experiencing a freedom that comes when your time is yours again – and it doesn’t belong to all those activities and other people’s plans for your life.
4. Get rid of all the stuff. Walk through your home wearing the “PURGING” hat and get rid of all that “stuff” that is crowding up your space. What is more valuable to you – the freedom to enjoy your family within the walls of the house that God has provided for you, or to constantly be cleaning, moving around, and straightening up the house because there is so much “stuff” to tend to.
In our home when we had small children, I loved all the toys and things and decorating has always been a huge enjoyment of mine. However, to enjoy my children and to enjoy my family, I had to limit (over and over again) the amount of “stuff” that was in closets, in cabinets and drawers, in bookshelves, and in the spaces of each room. If a room became to overloaded with furnishings, with knick-knacks, with toys, and with clothes, shoes, etc., then it was time to simplify.
We called them “Purging Parties” – I would gather the family and give them all 4 boxes labeled – THROW – GIVE – STOW – LIVE — In each box, they had to place what needed to be thrown away, given away (to non-profit organizations or to friends), to be stored in a closet or attic – and what needed to “live” in that space but was misplaced in another room. We would block off an entire Saturday and made it fun. Because it was a “Purging Party” then everything I served as snacks and supper started with a “P” – popsicles, popcorn, pop tarts, and pizza.” The Purging Lifestyle is one that always seems to keep me and my household grounded in living with less and living simple, so we can enjoy MORE!
If you were to start today by taking these 4 Small Steps Toward Simplifying Your Life, I just have to ask you one thing ..
What have you got to lose?