“Can a lifetime represent a single motive?”
T.S. Eliot, 1941.
“Do you lead a saturated, overloaded, and fragmented life? Are you pulled around by the nose through appeals to need? Are you frustrated at yourself over the times the best in your life is diverted by the good? Do you long to know the overriding passion and purity of heart of willing one thing? Listen to Jesus of Nazareth; answer his call.”
~Os Guinness, The Call.
Simplicity is a buzzword. As the modern world clamours to survive in an incredibly noisy existential backdrop it wants simplicity but without the sacrifice. It wants its cake and to eat it too!
I believe what Os Guinness is alluding to here in his book, The Call, is there is a way to live life very simplistically—but it involves some, no—a lot of, different modus operandi. Answering God in the affirmative requires us to reject many of the world’s overtures to get messy in a world of detail, discretionary tasks, desired purchases (retail therapy!), phone calls, needless banter, telemarketers, profanity, blasphemy, cheating, indecision etc, ad nauseam. How much of this is necessary?
As we begin to unravel the mess our lives have become we become freer and more like the people God created us to be in the first place.
Do we march to the beat of a different drummer or not?
Have we entered into his vision for our lives? Surely we know something of our innate purpose. If we do not, then it beckons us to stop right where we are and commence a journey of repentance by digging deeply into it. We are hardly a person at all when we exist without purpose; certainly the daily purpose, but life purpose too. Following our purpose is not, however, an excuse or reason to work the fingers to the bone. Let’s not take the pendulum to the other extreme so quickly.
Purpose focuses us; it inspires, motivates and drives us through the difficult times. It ignites us—we become on-fire, passionate for life—that ‘Jesus life,’ the abundant John 10:10 life.
And the focused life actually simplifies things without making them necessarily easier. (Ease is not what we’re about.) But at least we’re more ‘on song’ for God.
Where there is too much choice, and in Guinness’s words, too much “pluralisation” in society (and this is our world), there is a trap laid down squarely at the feet of the vast populace and every individual who doesn’t see the trap. We hence fall for a world of peripheral-at-best life which doesn’t rate. And the bizarre thing is—we know it! The very things that frustrate and fragment and overload us tell us where we’re going wrong, besides the times when the unimportant crowds-in the important and a drastic dilution of passion and purpose occurs.
There is only so much “good” we should individually be doing.
Twenty-first Century life has a lot to answer for, but the series of disciplines hasn’t changed. The simple and focused life is no easier or harder now than it ever was.
It’s up to us.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.
Reference: Os Guinness, The Call – Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life (Nashville, Tennessee: W Publishing Group/Thomas Nelson, 1998, 2003), pp. 162-71. This book is a must-read for Christian discipleship and direction. I try and read it each year.