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The Simple Life

by in Features, Formation, Sliding Gallery

I don’t know about you but when I think of simplicity, two things come to mind right away.
Firstly, when we meet Jesus it becomes clear that we are called to live a different life – a life of holiness and righteousness, which produces the good fruits of the Spirit (see Galatians 5:22-23).

This life is in many ways a simple life, not to be confused with everything suddenly being easy. The challenge is to keep a balance between two teaching of Jesus – all who are weary come to Jesus and he will give you rest (Matthew 11:28-30) AND to be his disciple you must give up everything, pick up your cross and follow him (see Luke 14:26-35).

Secondly, we need to get focused and simplify our lives if we want to achieve anything worthwhile.
We need an oneness of mind and heart, which cannot be achieved without determination, and the ability to count the cost and make decisions.

I don’t think we can choose to live the simple life Christ calls us to live unless we learn how to make decisions. Here’s how I suggest you walk through making decisions to live out that life you’re called to live.

DECISION MAKING
A. Count the cost
We need to affirm three truths here.

  1. Decisions have a cost attached to doing them. If it doesn’t cost you anything to do it is a minor decision.
  2. Decisions have a cost attached in not doing them. This is often overlooked!
  3. Costs are not just material.

Our choices have an effect on our whole being – physical, mental, family, business, social and spiritual lives.

So in order to count the cost you need to seize up what it will cost you to do and not to do, in all the above six mentioned areas of life.

B. Step out of denial
After considering the cost, you now have choices about leaving every option open or not choosing anything. However, postponing the decision is costly too. Want to get a sense of what the cost of (in)decision is? As yourself, “what is the cost of (not) waiting?” and “what is the gain of (not) waiting?”.

C. Ready, aim, SHOOT!
Many of us say, “ready, aim…” and never say shoot or actually shoot.

After counting the cost of doing and not doing and recognizing there’s a cost either way, you now need to actually shoot (make a decision).

MY STORY
I’ve had to make a few hard choices in my life where I was faced with a crossroads and the decision had great impact. When I was 20 I graduated from Gymnasiet (high school plus 1st year of college) in Northern Europe. For the first time in my life I felt like I was doing really great. I had a job waiting for me as a junior accountant with Price-Waterhouse Coopers along with two of my friends. I knew it would mean a lot of hard work, but it was also an opportunity to earn lots of money and get a good education. I struggled with this decision.

God knew of my inability to make a decision and so he orchestrated that I had to fulfill my military service immediately after Summer break. This meant my friends began without me and my contract was postponed another year. But something happened during this period. I learned about decision making and counting the cost of doing and not doing. For the first time in my life I realized that this dream of becoming an accountant and having a good education was not my dream, but was my mother’s dream for me.

You see, my two older brothers both have various mental disabilities and were therefore unable to go to university. For some reason, my parents, especially my mother, got it into their minds that if I didn’t go on the “good education, good job” path, then they would somehow have failed as parents, having raised three “failures.” (I must be clear in affirming that my brothers are not failures. They are awesome and I love them! But in the worlds eyes they would be labeled “failures”).

As you can imagine then, my parents put a lot of pressure on me to follow through on this job offer – especially after they began to realize that I might not do so. I didn’t want to disappoint and hurt my parents, but I also wanted to be true to myself. I had counted the cost (more than once!), and I had stepped out of denial. I knew that the decision had to made, and every day I postponed it I also choose to come one day closer to the actual first day of the job I was accepted for and had signed a contract for and live in another day of agony and pressure. Each day closer it became harder to make the decision.

In other words, I had said “ready, aim…” but wasn’t shooting. The longer I waited, the more fear and doubt crept in. Eventually I embraced the fact that I just needed to make the decision before it was too late. I prepared myself for the call by going through it one last time in my mind and in my heart. I also listened to a cd which had helped me in making the decision (an inspirational talk on fighting for your dreams), and with a shaking hand I picked up the phone, called and told them that I could not take the job after all. I thought, “What the heck was I doing?! “ Tears streamed down my face, my voice was shaky and my heart was beating insanely fast.

The man on the phone received it well and didn’t try to persuade me to reconsider (I think my tone of voice let him clue into the fact that it was not an easy call for me to make…). I hung up the phone and looked at myself in the mirror. While only expecting to whisper ‘yes’ I found myself yelling ‘YES’ repeatedly at the top of my lungs! What a fantastic moment of release from all that agony which had built up over months and months of inaction!

Yes, I faced an uncertain future. In fact, I still do to this very day, even though it was back in 2009 I made that phone call. But whenever I think of my two friends who still work there, I thank God that I’m not. I know that living another person’s dream is equivalent to building the very wall that imprisons me – and every day of postponing is also a day of agonizing as I see myself put yet another brick on that wall.

HMMM
I invite you to become all you were created to be! Will you count the cost, acknowledge the price you are paying, make a decision and carry it through? Here’s some questions to think through.

  • What things in your life need changing?
  • Are you headed the wrong direction?
  • Are you hanging out with the wrong sort of people, but don’t want to hurt them by leaving them?
  • Are you in an unhealthy relationships (bf, gf, friends)?
  • Are you trying to live another’s dream?
  • Are you slowly building the wall that imprisons you?

SHOOT right through that wall, and blast it to pieces! Cry out to God, and He will help you!

Remember, courage isn’t the absence of fear but is action in the presence of fear.

God is with you, the Spirit is in you and will help you.

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