Today we begin our series, "The Simple Life". I am excited to start this series and have felt burden for sometime to write and post on frugal issues and a minimalist mindset; but from a Christian perspective. I hope you will join us every Monday morning for posts related to having a life that is simple and free from materialism. We are hosting a book giveaway to launch this series and I hope you will enter your name in for the book drawing. All the details for the book giveaway are in this post. Comment there for your chance to win.
In "The Simple Life" series we are going to explore this lifestyle from many different angles. We will tackle practical tips and give ideas and reference other blogs who deal with lifestyle choices that enhance this lifestyle. However, if we are truly going to tackle this issue; we must first start with heart issues. We need to find out why things are so important to us. This first post we are going to explore to whom, or where we are worshiping.
I remember as a little girl hating Easter Sunday. I remember this aversion starting around my third or fourth grade year of school. Before that time I had fond memories of the spring holiday. We had the Easter egg hunts in our yard, a nice lunch following church and pictures before church that marked the special day. You know the pictures; you probably have them in your family’s photo albums as well.
Each Easter we took the pictures before church. My sister and I adorned in our new Easter dresses. Complete with a spring hat, white gloves, new white shoes (you could not wear white shoes until Easter Sunday) and usually a new little purse to finish out the outfit. Sometimes the picture was taken on the couch with the big Easter basket full of candy and gifts – other years the picture was taken on the front steps as we headed out for church. Year after year. Hat after hat. Each Easter – a new outfit and a new picture to add to the photo album.
Then that year happened. I was too young to remember what had caused there to be no money for an Easter dress; but that year I went to church in an ‘old’ dress. There was no hat. No gloves. Black shoes covered my feet. To this day, I remember sitting in my seat in Sunday school and feeling out of place. The skinny legs of my Sunday school chair could not hide the color of my shoes as I tried in vain to wrap my feet around them. I wished that I could be anywhere but there; and I determined in my heart of hearts that I did not like Easter Sunday.
Time passed and I grew up; and as I got older I focused more on the spiritual emphasis and meaning of Easter Sunday. I got married and started having my babies. My babies had grandparents who had fond memories of how sweet and wonderful it was to get a new spring outfit for the kids and through their gifts my children lacked nothing when it came to dressing up for the big day. I enjoyed it too as the new dresses and suits were taken from their hangers and the kids were dressed up for the special holiday. The weeks before that Spring Sunday were filled with plans and preparations for what they would wear on that Sunday to church.
Finally the Easter Sunday was here and we got up early to get the kids ready in time to take the pictures. The dresses looked just right, hats where adjusted and straightened; and the shoes were double checked to make sure there were no scuffs and the new shine was still there. Then we lined the kids up on the couch and started flashing the camera to get the perfect shot for the album.
One Easter, and I don’t recall which one – or what prompted the flashback memory – I took the picture and as the camera flashed I was transported in my mind’s eye to a Sunday school classroom where I was sitting with my legs wrapped around the chair. I felt at that very moment the awkwardness I had felt all those years earlier. It was the feeling of rejection; of being sub-par; of not measuring up to the status quo.
I was immediately concerned and convicted. I was sending a message to my children; and my spirit knew that it was a wrong message. I knew that this was not a message I wanted to teach my children. How sad I would feel if they ever felt deprived and second class because of the clothes that they wore to church on any given Sunday; but the uneasiness in my spirit went even deeper than that. Much deeper than that! I grew deeply concerned that if I was putting an emphasis on the outward things that they had on that someday they might look down on someone who did not have those things and think them someone beneath them. That thought terrified me more than the pretense I was feeding by my emphasis on their new clothes.
The battle was just beginning. God was confronting a philosophy that I had been exposed to for as long as I could remember. I was not the only little girl in the Sunday school class with a new spring dress, hat, and purse. Most of the entire class had on their new Easter outfits. Doesn’t everyone get a new outfit for Easter and Christmas? It is the American way – our culture so to speak. Through the conviction I argued: “There is nothing wrong with getting my children a new outfit for this special day.”
I grew frustrated with the conviction; agitated deeply in my heart of hearts. It was the Holy Spirit who pointed out that the issue was not the new dress, the pictures or the color of shoes. The issue was deeper. God began to show me as I pondered these things and as I allowed the Holy Spirit to work in my heart that I had my worth tied up in things. In this instance, it was the clothes my kids were wearing. It mattered to me that people thought that I was a good parent based on what my kids wore to church on Easter Sunday. It mattered to me that people did not view us as poor or needy by making sure that my kids had a new outfit to wear on the Sunday when everybody gets a new outfit for church.
Ah, the nerve the Holy Spirit was hitting on hurt. I started to see that I was worshiping what others thought of me more than I was worshiping God.
I started to see that if I was going to allow God to dictate my value system I was going to have to not value status quo. I was going to have to confront the way I had looked at things; and sometimes those confrontations were painful. I wish I could say that it gets easier; but when our heart has grown accustomed to worshiping at one altar it is difficult to stop our religious exercise of futile worship.
I was worshiping at the altar of acceptance. I was forgetting that my approval rests in God Himself. He has bought me for a high price, I am His, accepted, cherished. His acceptance of me is not based on what clothes I wear, the color of my shoes; but He loves because He is love and has chosen to shower His love and acceptance on me. Through the years I have realized just how much I want my children to know that truth. You get what you honor. If I honor the material things of this world – I will get children who turn into adults who worship at the altar of materialism.
If we are going to ever pull away and live a life that is free from the ties of this world we must evaluate at which altars we worship. There are many altars. They are altars of our own making. The altar of acceptance has many worshipers; as does the altars of fame, leisure, entertainment and money.
Where we worship is where we will spend our time, our money and our emphasis in life. The simple life is free from being entangled in the worlds’ system and philosophies. The simple life is a life that is focused on what is to come – not the here and now.
Where are you worshiping? What value systems are you promoting to your children, your friends, your neighbors? May I challenge you to allow the Holy Spirit to do His work and show you the idols of your heart? It hurts. It cuts deep; but when we are willing to tear down the altars that have so crowded our lives it opens up to us the ability to love God more, to understand Him deeper and to worship Him with our whole heart.
“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above.”
“Know ye not that friendship with the world is enmity against God?”