Sometimes when you pray for something to develop within your character, God allows things in your life to form that specific quality in you. You know what I mean, right? You pray for patience and many opportunities to practice patience arise. Whether it’s just a renewed and heightened awareness of it, or new situations actually coming up, opportunities seem more available – or maybe you’re more ready to receive them. Regardless, I’ve been praying for more grace and opportunity to simplify life even more, and opportunities are arising. Some people are nesters, and some are nomads, embracing the J.R.R. Tolkien sentiment of “Not all who wander are lost.” Truly, some are not lost, but rather they are on a mission: as in the case of Tolkien’s poem regarding the character of Aragorn in the story of The Lord of the Rings.
All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.
Sometimes the mission takes us down the street, sometimes it takes us across town, across the continent, or across the world. I believe that the more this mission ‘takes us’ the more life must become simpler – out of necessity. So, praise God for answering prayers, and the grace for the process.
What I’ve learned before, and am learning again, is that if you focus on making a difference in the world (with the love of Christ), it will require giving up ‘stuff.’ It’s not about an ascetic lifestyle (though there are some ascetic realities to spiritual practices), but the reality is that the things that cause clutter often don’t hold a lot of meaning. It will feel like ‘giving up stuff’ until your perspective shifts from you to the King/mission/cause. Maybe that was the lesson with the rich young ruler (Matthew 19:16-22) too. We can often read that text in a way that the young ruler’s wealth had too strong of a grip on him, but the text leaves us to speculate: “When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.” Jesus doesn’t sermonize it much, just that the sacrifices are worth it, and the rich seem to have the biggest hold-ups regarding it. Clearly there was a tug-of-war, and clearly the young man was looking for meaning. We don’t know what happened to him after that, but we do all have our own crossroads where we ask, “What is more important?”
Lately, I’ve been fascinated by how the parables that Jesus taught speak so much about faithfulness and care for others, and against the preoccupation that we can have with ourselves and our stuff. From the parable of the Great Feast to the Good Samaritan, the DNA of the Kingdom of Heaven is counter-cultural to the mentalities of most of the world and our human tendencies. Live simply in a complex world, and trust the Father to provide. The call for the Christ follower is to not only live simply, but to do so generously. The rich young ruler was not called to merely live with less, but to be generous with what he had: give the proceeds to the poor: “…go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me” (vs. 21). The statement, “Live simply so that others may simply live” seemingly has a few attributions, from Gandhi to Mother Teresa, but the sentiment in our hyper-connected world resonates with many who feel the out-of-balance-ness of those who are suffering in light of many living with plenty.
Being Jesus followers, we are given the call to be humble, serve, love, be hidden, sacrifice, and actually be willingly understated in a world that pushes to be noticed. Aragorn’s character (in this sense) can be seen as Christological analogy/symbolism, and as Christ followers, as we learn to invest in Kingdom of Heaven realities in our lives, we’ll see value beyond the glittering of monetary gain, deep roots of meaning that persist through the storms of life, and renewal from brokenness.
Follow the humble King Jesus, live simply, enhance the lives of others and be ready for an adventure.