By Claire Eva, Assistant Director, General Conference Stewardship Ministries

Summary: Simplicity cannot exist without discipline. If I want to begin with a slow, uncomplicated morning, I cannot stay up late and mistreat my body. . .

The topic of simplicity is in vogue today. There are numerous books published from various perspectives on this theme. I recently purchased a set of audio tapes on the subject—knowing it to be an upcoming topic for Dynamic Steward, true, but also longing to hear something that would help me simplify my life.

Who of us does not want a simpler life? One of my favorite books of all time is The Gift of the Deer, by Helen and Adrian Hoover. It is still getting rave reviews! This true story is about a middle-aged writer/illustrator couple who leave their successful city careers and move to a remote lakeshore log cabin home in the North wood country of Minnesota. They are visited by an injured stag, whom they name Peter. Helen and Adrian feed their new friend and continue to nurture the family he brings along as they spend their later years subsisting in a challenging but beautiful new world!

How does one simplify his or her life? In his book, Celebration of Discipline, Richard J. Foster says: ?Simplicity is freedom. Duplicity is bondage. Simplicity brings joy and balance. Duplicity brings anxiety and fear. . . . The Christian Discipline of simplicity is an inward reality that results in and outward life-style.?

My audio tapes repeatedly reminded me that simplicity cannot exist without discipline. If I want to begin with a slow, uncomplicated morning, I cannot stay up late and mistreat my body. Ken Smith’s article tells me again of the important link between simplicity, freedom and discipline. In his sermon, Throwing Away Good Stuff, Fred Craddock complements these authors by highlighting an important aspect of

Christian simplicity which Foster illuminates: ?The central point for the Discipline of simplicity is to seek the kingdom of God and the righteousness of his kingdom ?first’ and then everything necessary will come in its proper order? (Celebration of Discipline, p 86).

?Freedom from anxiety,? states Foster, ?is characterized by three inner attitudes. If what we have we receive as a gift, and if what we have is to be cared for by God, and if what we have is available to others, then we will possess freedom from anxiety. This is the inward reality of simplicity? (Ibid, p 88).

?To be simple is to f ix one’s eye solely on the simple truth of God at a time when all concepts are being confused, distorted and turned upside down? (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Ethics, p 68). ?Consider the lilies . . .? said Jesus. He simply asks us to choose the better part (Mt 6:29; Lk 10:42). If our focus is centered on Him—one Kingdom, one Savior, one Lord—the clutter will fall away!

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October–December, 2001

Simplicity