I use Google Maps…a lot. There can be no question where Google “thinks” your destination is. But as with all things, Google Maps isn’t perfect. Until I contacted Google to make some corrections, anyone who looked for my house heard the words “You have arrived” in the middle of a cornfield a half mile from my house. I made a call and an email or two, and Google got closer, but still not quite there. The Google Maps “pin,” as it is called, showed that I live in a subdivision, still 500 ft from my actual address. A second round of communication with Google and now the pin sits on top of my house, though to click on to get a picture, sometimes you see a picture that is of a house in the subdivision and still not mine. The description on a general Google Map even suggested at one point that my house was actually a grocery story with a different city listed, which doesn’t really exist anymore as far as addresses go.
I point this out to address (no pun intended) this famous, even patented, “pin,” belonging to Google. It points out your destination or your location, depending on what you are asking it to reveal to you.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of “you are here” lately, especially in relationship to God. Personal suffering exists because people aren’t following the map to their intended destination — they aren’t using God’s map, nor are they following His directions. All suffering is created by man’s choices– either our own, someone else’s against us, or both.
Take the country’s escalating racial tension recently. That’s all about sin and poor choices. If we were on God’s page, we would see that to declare any kind of supremacy, racial or other, is simply an attempt to put the self over another person and blame that other person for problems that do not belong to them. To declare oneself superior and to attack with what humans declare as “hate” is unacceptable in a civilized society. It creates suffering for everyone in some way, shape, or form.
Whether we realize it or not, we all ultimately look for the same destination — some may look to heaven and eternal life as their ultimate goal; others can’t see past this part of life in terms of seeking life satisfaction, peace, pleasure, happiness… Still others would be thankful if they can make it to the end of the day, or even the next five minutes. Everyone’s location is different. Everyone’s location pin is wherever they are. If where you are is a place of pain, frustration, or unhappiness, you’ve taken a wrong turn somewhere, either by choice or someone else’s choice has rerouted you. More often than not, we chose to take a path other than the one God laid out for us a long time ago.
One of my favorite stories is about a businessman who was running late on his way to a meeting. In his haste, he decided to cut across a country road that showed up on his map, even though it was not part of the original directions to his destination. He found a side road that he believed would get him to his meeting faster. As he turned onto the road, there were signs across the road warning, “Road closed ahead: Bridge out.” Since he could not see that the road was closed where he was, he took his chances, drove around the warning signs and took the road he hoped would be his saving grace. A few miles later, he discovered that the bridge was indeed out and there was no way to get to his destination by that route. Frustrated that he had wasted so much time, the businessman turned around and headed back out to the road from which he had turned. As he approached the road closed signs, he read on the back of one of them: “Welcome back, stupid!”
I would never call anyone stupid, but sometimes we feel pretty stupid when we recognize we’re on a path that looked hopeful to us, but was ultimately a dead end in life and that we’ve wasted so much time. The point is, we humans tend to complicate our own lives.
In the Bible, we read that King Solomon, the son of King David, the wisest man who ever lived, spent a great deal of his life experimenting with what brings happiness, peace, and life satisfaction. In Ecclesiastes 7.29, we read, loosely translated, “God made man simple; his complex problems are of his own devising.” In these few words, Solomon is not calling man stupid or even unintelligent; he is simply stating through discernment that our lives are not supposed to be complicated. Complicated living by our own hand as humans results in suffering in many different ways. God never intended life to be difficult, but we make it difficult when we focus on the wrong things.
How do we uncomplicated our lives so that at any given time our location pin is on God’s path? S.L.S.— Simply Living Simply. When you ask God where you are in relation to where He wants you to be, I want Him to reveal that to you through His WORD. I pray one day He will be able to show you and say to you, “You are here” and you will be thrilled to be in the right place.
In 1 Thessalonians 4.11, the apostle Paul says as part of a challenge how to live our lives and please God, “…and make it your ambition [aspiration] to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your hands…so that you will win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent upon anyone.” That is an exhortation to seek simplicity at its best!
But where to begin? Purge that which clutters your mind and spirit — those cherished sins (the things that you know are wrong but have chosen not to let go of for some reason). Get rid of harshness, critical attitudes, and self-righteousness. Many of the things we see as a diagnosis in mental health are really these things that have cluttered up our minds so much we have a physical reaction to them. Purge them and much of it will dissipate over time. Be free. Depression comes from too much focus on the past; anxiety, worry, and fear come from too much focus on the future. What is needed is to live in the present moment, freed of life’s distractions that stimulate us to think forward or backward.
That means purging our lives of material and positional hang ups too. Learn to detach from your “things,” material or otherwise, and learn non-attachment to this world. Simply live simply.
“… and make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, mind your own business, and work with your hands…so that you will win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anyone.”
I want to help you with this as God helps me grow in this area. I’ve been sharing various themes in my blogs over the past few weeks, and I will continue that. But I want you to see that these things with which we struggle are usually about complicated living and simply living simply will aid in correcting them with the Wonderful Counselor’s direction.
You are here. If you aren’t here, living in this present moment, doing your best to make life count for God, you’re not where you are supposed to be and in some way(s) you will eventually feel that, even if you don’t recognize it. Life becomes complicated when we try to make life about us rather than seeing to the greater good of others. Life becomes uncomplicated when we purge, detach, and learn non-attachment, i.e., when we think of the greater good of others’ needs and wants ahead of our own. Acting on that new way of thinking is also called love, and love is the power of becoming. Blessings and Shalom!