A Quiet, Simple Life

In recent months, I’ve undertaken the task of simplifying my life, particularly in terms of what I own. Nearly every week, I find myself at the donation center with another box-load of charitable items. It’s amazing what one can accumulate in twenty years. Correction: it’s amazing what one who is a packrat can accumulate in twenty years.

I wish it were as simple as that. But it’s not.

The fact of the matter is that twenty years is no excuse. And being a packrat isn’t a good reason either. When all the school papers, school books, yearbooks, and photo albums of Ole Packrat Me have been accounted for, there is still a lot of BOUGHT STUFF cluttering up my life. In short, I have not been very responsible with how I have spent my money. Correction: How I have spent God’s money. …Because when it comes down to it, isn’t money a gift from God—to be used wisely?

Fortunately, it’s never too late (as long as I live and breathe) to turn over a new leaf—to develop a proper mindset on money and possessions.

In the area of the basement that I tackled today, I encountered a stack of magazines from 2003. Back then, I was part of a gardening club (cha-ching) that offered with its membership a bi-monthly gardening publication.

I paused in my purging efforts to peruse the March/April 2003 issue. I peered at a map of planting zones for the United States and Canada. I pondered the notion of making maple syrup, falling just short of reading the entire how-to.

Male Eastern Bluebird

As I scanned the magazine, a “feathered facts” column on the eastern bluebird caught my eye—mostly because eastern bluebirds are frequent visitors to my cluttered (but getting less so by the week) corner of North Carolina.

From the brief article, I learned that the eastern bluebird eats flying insects, caterpillars and grubs. Also, this pretty bird can be recognized by its lilting song that sounds like churlee-churlee-churlee. (Now I know who’s singing that song!)


Female (left) and Male (right) Eastern Bluebirds behind my house. (Durham, NC)

As I tossed the gardening magazines into my recycle bin, I thought about my quest for the quiet, simple life—uncluttered by the abundance of possessions and the anxiety that inevitably comes when the focus is on accumulating and maintaining earthly treasures—and I thought about how the Bible uses the behavior of birds to teach on the subject of possessions and anxiety. Here’s what Jesus says in Matthew 6:19-34:

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?

“And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (ESV)

We all tend toward collecting earthly things, but only heavenly treasures are eternal—and only heavenly treasures are the ones that ultimately satisfy. God calls us as Christians to be generous with what He has given us, and to serve Him as master instead of being slaves to our possessions or being “Worry Warts” about our needs. God provides.[1]

This is my prayer, and I hope that it is yours, too: “Heavenly Father, lead me to ‘seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.’”[2]

[1] Ultimately, God provides for us eternally through Jesus Christ, the sinless sacrifice for our sins.
[2] Colossians 3:1; prayer taken from The Lutheran Study Bible commentary, 1591.

2 thoughts on “A Quiet, Simple Life

  1. Jesus returns to this theme of treasures in heaven rather than treasures on earth in Mt. 19:21, where he tells the rich man to sell his treasured possessions and give to the poor, and he will have treasure in heaven; and he can begin to follow Jesus. Similarly, in Lk. 12:33 Jesus tells all his disciples to sell treasured possessions, and give alms (to the poor) . .. (and they will have) a treasure in the heavens.

    • Thank you for reading the post and for taking the time to leave comments!

      Indeed, the passages you mention are great reminders that acting on the call to charity, which yields heavenly wealth, is a faithful, obedient and grateful response to the free gift of salvation available by faith alone through Christ alone.

      Thanks again for reading my blog!

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