We had been doing a study in our Sunday School class on "Simplicity" for
weeks even before the Peru Trip. We were using the book,
"Celebration of Discipline" by Richard Foster, which is a book that I
highly recommend! Every Christian should read this book. But after the trip
and hearing all the stories about the people of Ventanilla...I could not
deny that the Lord was speaking to me a message about "Simplicity".
And I just had to share my thoughts and the things that the Lord has
been showing me with all of you. It is my prayer that these words
will be a blessing to someone.
We had been talking about Simplicity in Sunday School for several weeks, using Richard Fosters book. And while ALan was away I decided that I would use the evenings alone to do some extra studying and praying and I did some more studying through the chapter on Simplicity again. And then Alan came home filled with stories about the people and their lives in Ventanilla. God has been speaking to my heart through all of this.
The stories of Gracia and her family have really caused me to think about
all the THINGS that we have. Our houses are filled with THINGS.
We are always wanting more THINGS...we are never satisfied with
the THINGS we have. Now I don't think that having THINGS is
wrong. But I think that our attitudes about our THINGS can be wrong.
If our minds are consumed with our THINGS and with the puruit of
more THINGS, than our minds cannot be open to God's voice.
All of this has caused me to think about SIMPLICITY. I want to
simplify my life...I don't want THINGS to get in the way of my
open communication with the Lord.
Francois Penelon said, "When we are truly in this interior simplicity our whole appearance is franker, more natural. This true simplicity...makes us conscious of a certain openness, gentleness, innocence, gaiety, and serenity, which is charming when we see it near to and continually, with pure eyes. O, how amiable this simplicity is! Who will give it to me? I leave all for this. It is the Pearl of the Gospel."
Life here in the United States flies by at light speed. How often do we hear "Time really flies!!" or "Theres never enough hours in my day!"?
We pack our schedules so full that it's near impossible to make every appointment and remain sane. We think we're making our children happy when we sign them up for sports teams, music lessons, gymnastics and horseback riding. We think we cannot survive with any less than 2 incomes in the family, we're not a "good mom" unless we're on the PTA, bake cookies for every Bake Sale and hand-sew each years Recital Costumes.
Since we're too busy to find happiness in the relationships in our lives we think we'll find "True Happiness" if we buy the newest ATV on the market, park a boat in the garage (we never have time to go to the lake), only buy the kids the "name brand" sneakers and jeans, and play the stock market on-line.
Since we never take time to relax and refresh "self" we think we can only look our best if we have our nails sculpted every week, our "boobs" filled with silicone, and take "Herbal-Who-Knows-What" in an attempt to look like the lady on the magazine covers.
While we're on this mad rush, do we really have the time to "Be still and know that I am God"? When was the last time you(I) really heard His voice? Do our prayers usually consist of rushed "laundry lists" of the things we NEED or WANT?
Is the Sunday Morning church service the most scripture you hear or read in a weeks time?
(Please remember that this is all things that I have asked myself in the past several weeks. I am not being judgemental...I am giving you a glimpse inside my brain!)
I wonder what my life would be like if I put the same effort and energy into growing close to the Lord that I have spent on the pursuit of "True Happiness" through getting more, doing more, saying more?
What would happen if I actually stopped attempting to work out every problem in my own power and I give it over to God and take my hands off of it completely?
In Richard Fosters book he writes, "simplicity is freedom. Duplicity is bondage. Simplicity brings joy and balance. Duplicity brings anxiety and fear."
WOW! That's my life! Bondage, anxiety, fear!!
"God made man simple; man's complex problems are of his own devising"
Ecclesiastes 7:30
That verse speaks volumes.
In Alan's journal that he kept on his trip to Peru he shared about the "lesson" that the Lord had shared with him. Here in the U.S. our STRESS is the "Stress of Luxury". Things like payments/bills for expensive houses, cars, credit card debt, busy schedules, greed, etc. The people of Ventanilla are happy, peaceful people. Yet most of them have almost nothing. THey live a simple life. The Lord provides them with food to satisfy their hunger...even though it may not be steaks or Fast Food or "junk food". They have shelter...even though it's not a new condominium or a 200,000 dollar home. They live within their means. They don't know they're "poor" because they've never had any better.
But we can never seem to HAVE enough or to DO enough!
Most of the trials in our lives are of our own making.
A had a discussion with my girls a few days ago. In an attempt to spare them some of the frustration and stress that I have experienced in my life I talked with them about what truly matters in our lives. All the stesses and problems that we deal with in our life...those are not the "building blocks" that we should use to build our lives. Those things are just "stuff" that we have to deal with on this earth.
But we should not allow them to cloud our vision from what really matters.
We should build our days and weeks and years with "building blocks" created from the relationships in our lives...taking the time to watch our small child at play, to really look into the eyes of our child when they're talking to us, appreciate the sound of their voice, spend some quiet moments on the porch swing with our spouse, let the yard work and the laundry go one Saturday and pack a picnic and take our family to the park or the lake, get away from the phone and the mail and really listen to the sound of our family's laughter, take a day to spend some special time with a Grandparent that you usually don't have time for, spend a few bucks on a long-distance phone call to an old friend that you've not spoken with in years, take the time to REALLY look at God's creation...appreciate each petal of a flower, the intricacy of a bumble bee, the smell of rain.
Those are the things that REALLY make a Life
Flat tires, past-due bills, spilled milk, rude check-out clerks, business meetings... these are all things that don't matter. Don't let them block your view!
Foster says, "The Christian Discipline of simplicity is an inward reality that results in an outward life-style. Both the inward and the outward aspects of simplicity are essential. We deceive ourselves if we believe we can possess the inward reality without it's having a profound effect on how we live. And to attempt to arrange an outward life-style of simplicity without the inward reality leads to deadly legalism.
Experiencing the inward reality liberates us outwardly.
Speech becomes truthful and honest.
The lust for status and position is gone because we no longer need them.
We cease from showy extravagance not on the grounds of being unable to afford it, but on the grounds of principle.
Our goods become available to others.
Speaking personally... I really think that "Real Life" has been passing me by while I have been blinded by the exhaustion that comes with DOING too much, the worry and greed that comes with HAVING too much and the dissatisfaction that comes with WANTING too much.
And now that God has revealed all this to me I have 2 choices:
I can wallow in regret and shame for what "could have been"
I can BEGIN to make changes in my life... to do better from this moment on.
*I want to really LISTEN to my girls, look them in the eye, listen to the beautiful sound of their laughter, take the time to comfort their adolescent hearts before this season of their lives is gone.
*Make time for "Dates" and Quiet Moments with my husband. I want to remember the love and the "spark" that started this FAMILY
*I want to treasure each moment spent with someone I love and I want to make sure there are more of those moments.
*I want to learn the difference between WANT and NEED
*I want to be a BLESSING to someone everyday
*I want to make time to Listen for god's voice everyday
*I want to give more of myself
*I want to look for the beauty in the world around me
*I want to always remember the "glass is ALWAYS half FULL"!! :o)
For so long, my life has been ruled by worry and stress. This has stolen my ability to enjoy life. But recently the Lord revealed to me something:
The presence of Trust means the absence of fear
The presence of trust means the presence of peace any situation, if worry or stress is present, then I am not fully trusting in the Lord. Which means my FAITH is not as strong as it should be.
The God who created the Universe can surely handle ANY situation I could ever face. He does NOT need my help to work it out!
Remember, Foster said, "simplicity is freedom. Duplicity is bondage. Simplicity brings joy and balance. Duplicity brings anxiety and fear."
Our security should lie in nothing but the Lord Jesus.
Security should not come from a weekly paycheck, a padded bank account, another human being, a house...nothing but the Lord.
I love what Foster had to say about this:
"our need for security has led us into an insane attachment to things.
We really must understand that the Lust for affluence in contemporary society is psychotic. It is psychotic because it has completely lost touch with reality.
We crave things we neither need nor enjoy.
We buy things we do not want to impress people we do not like.
This psychosis permeates even our mythology. The modern hero is the poor boy who purposefully becomes rich rather than the rich boy who purposefully becomes poor
Covetousness we call ambition.
Hoarding we call prudence.
Greed we call industry.
I can't help but feel that if we remove our insatiable need to have more and bigger and better THINGS, this would change so much in our lives.
We would not have the need for 2 or 3 or more incomes in every family.
Which would free up more time to spend with our family and friends.
We would be less rushed and less stressed.
We'd have more time to spend with the Lord, allowing for more spiritual growth.
Now I am not saying that it's wrong to have THINGS. Even God intends for us to have "adequate material provision." Remember, He has promised "Life more abundantly".And for someone to piously get rid of everything they own, this would be pure legalism. It has nothing to do with what we have but everything to do with how we think...what holds #1 priority in our lives. We need to consider the fact that some of that "abundance" God mentioned can be found in the relationships with the people we love, quiet time spent with Him, or in the beauty of His creation
Again, Foster summarized it well: "The Spiritual discipline of simplicity provides the needed perspective. Simplicity sets us free to receive the provision of God as a gift that is not ours to keep and can be freely shared with others."
I hope that some of this has made sense for you.
For me it has been as if someone finally turned the light on in a dark room.
I think that what it all boils down to is this:
Our relationship with Jesus should be the #1 Priority in our lives.
Everything we do or say in our lives should be measured in the ole' "WWJD Test"
"What Would Jesus Do?" (or say?)
If He is #1 in our lives then everything else will fall into place in his timing.
One of our prayers should be for God to help us to simplify our lives...
so that we can be thankful for what we have, generous with all that we have been blessed with, and we will find our greatest joy in the moments spent with those we love. Because other than that...
Nothing else really matters.
I would highly recommend the book I have mentioned here:
The Celebration of Discipline
by Richard Foster
The chapter on Simplicity is wonderful but it is only one of many! He also covers such christian disciplines as
meditation, prayer, fasting, study, solitude, submission, service, confession, worship, guidance and celebration.
I bought my copy at Berean Christian Bookstore.
You might also find it at
Let me know what you think about this page. I'd love to hear from you. Do you have a story of
to share with me?
~Send me an email~
Other Pages About The Trip:
Mission To Ventanilla, Peru
June 21 thru July 1, 2000
The original page where I entered info. about the
"Briefings" held prior to the trip, list of team members, etc.
Alan's Missions Journal
Entries from Alan's personal journal
Stories From Ventanilla
Here we share lots of the stories of how God used
our team members to minister to the people of
Ventanilla and how God used the people of
Ventanilla to teach our team members many valuable lessons.
Thank you for your interest in this mission trip.
We attend
Millville Ave. Church of God
(of Anderson, Indiana)
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