Thursday, January 13, 2011

Freedom in Simplicity

Richard Foster wrote two incredible books that included the topic of simplicity. The first was "Celebration of Discipline" written over 25 years ago, and the second was an expansion of one of
the chapters in that book called "Freedom of Simplicity." While in seminary I had the privilege of hearing him speak on each topic and I was moved. Well, as a graduate student I was living pretty simply anyway, so it wasn't hard to find all kinds of agreement with Mr. Foster.
Over 25 years have passed for me and although I still agree with many of the principles in his book, I have found it difficult to embrace. Why? Simply because I like things! There, I said it! After
all, how can anyone live in this advanced culture that offers such wealth and not be materialistic? Yes, there are some who choose to live very simply, with the most recognizable being the Amish. Sorry, that's not my upbringing. I've known some that think that living in such a way is in and of itself a form of spirituality. It might be. I have even heard that there are some (a few) who voluntarily give up their means and choose life on the streets. And, what about monks and nuns? They have taken vows along those lines. I certainly admire Mother Teresa and have defended her incredible work and sacrifices publicly.
But, all that being said, how can the average American in the twenty-first century live a simpler life without giving everything away pitching a tent in the woods? Which, by the way, may not even be legal in some states.
Well, here is my point: There is freedom in simplicity. Even in the wealthiest nation on earth a person can choose to live a simpler lifestyle. We have it all available to us, but that does not mean that we should strive to own it all! Our pastor is currently taking us through a study along these lines on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. I've heard much of the teaching before, but like so many other subjects, was not ready to really embrace it. But now, especially in these trying and uncertain times it's a wise person who at least entertains some new ideas on simpler living. Tips like:
     >Limiting indebtedness as much as possible,
     >Don't buy impulsively,
     >Save something for a rainy day and
     >Give some away.
I guess the reason why I believe this is becoming a more critical issue in the state of our economy. When there is uncertainty, it's wise to be prudent. Right? My wife and I are committed to the above principles, including the giving away part. We give to our church, other ministries and non-profits as we are led by God.
There IS freedom in living more simply. For us, it frees us from worry about tomorrow. Many marriages stress to the point of breaking apart as a result of financial problems. I am currently on unemployment and my wife is working. We have had to trim some things and it's all right. We're committed to limiting debt, not buying impulsively, saving some and giving some away.
There is great freedom in committing to a simpler lifestyle. It can be done...and it will
free your mind.
Find Real Freedom!

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