No matter how hard I try to avoid it, the illustration of cake keeps surfacing as I search for ways to connect with you on this PINK Tuesday (sorry)! I’m not sure that the Apostle Paul would have jumped right to food in order to paint a word picture to accompany his letter to the Corinthians, but I’m the first to say, “if the boot fits…”
And this ‘boot’ is a good fit. Even if it is edible.
Hear these words from Paul on this PINK Tuesday:
“I do want to point out, friends, that time is of the essence. There is no time to waste, so don’t complicate your lives unnecessarily. Keep it simple – in marriage, grief, joy, whatever. Even in ordinary things – your daily routines of shopping, and so on. Deal as sparingly as possible with the things the world thrusts on you. This world as you see it is on its way out. I want you to live as free of complications as possible.” 1 Corinthians 7:29-32 (The Message)
As free of complications as possible… Is that even POSSIBLE?
What makes it so ridiculously difficult to grasp what Paul is suggesting is our fondness for what my friend Nancy Whitney-Reiter calls “sprinkles.” In her book, Now Is The Time To Do What You Love, Nancy explains the benefits of downsizing:
“…most of us are surrounded by “sprinkles.” Using the analogy of a cake: the cake itself has flavor and so does the frosting. But what do the sprinkles really add? Empty calories. Take a good look around you. Chances are, you’re surrounded by things that you no longer use and likely never will.”
Go ahead – do it. Take a look around the room you’re sitting in right now. Think about the space you live in – your shelves and cupboards and closets.
What are your preferred “sprinkles”?
What are the things that make your proverbial cupcakes look colorful and cute but fail to add anything of substance to your life? What constitutes “empty calories” – things you consume that fail to nourish your soul?
I seriously doubt that the Wise Men of old traveled with sprinkles. I suspect that they limited their luggage to that which gave them nourishment, sustenance and protection for the journey. Surely they kept it simple, in order to be footloose enough to travel as the star led them. In order to keep up with God.
Personally, I fail the sprinkles-test every time I pack for a trip.
I might need this.
I could want that.
If it’s cold, I’ll need that.
If it rains…
You’ve been there, too. I can’t even stomach the thought of going camping because the what-ifs end up creating such an intimidating packing list. Either the stuff goes, or the kids go. Both won’t fit in the car!
It takes discipline to pack a week’s worth of personal items into a carry-on. And it takes discipline to simplify a life that has been complicated by the things the world thrusts on us. Even if we were willing recipients of those things, you’ve got to agree with Nancy when she reminds us that “you expend energy on your possessions. Simplifying your possessions allows you to redirect that energy…”
I don’t know about you, but I sure could use some energy to redirect as the school year comes to a close and summer ‘vacation’ begins! Maybe I could channel that newly-found energy toward the process of freeing up space in my head and in my schedule for the Spirit of God to come in and move me. Or maybe I have friends and family who need my attention, but I just haven’t seemed to have the time to spend with them.
Sprinkle-maintenance requires time and energy and attention that Paul tells us is better spent on the things that matter to God. In fact, Paul says that:
“All I want is for you to be able to develop a way of life in which you can spend plenty of time together with the Master without a lot of distractions.” 1 Corinthians 7:35 (The Message)
I have a dear friend who just moved from an enormous house into a much smaller home – not unlike many of us who have been adversely affected by our country’s economic state. She was forced to downsize her estate within a very short time frame, creating stress and using up precious energy that could have been directed toward holding her family together in a season of emotionally challenging events.
What if we could choose to live in the same way that the Wise Men traveled – limiting our possessions to those which give us nourishment, sustenance and protection for the journey of this life that we are on? Wouldn’t it be great if we could keep it simple, in order to be footloose enough to travel as the Spirit leads us? In order to be able to keep up with God?
Take stock today of your sprinkles. Pay close attention to those possessions which drain your resources – time, energy and money. Consider asking God to help you give away these empty calories (or sell them on Craigslist)!
NOT so that you can turn around and shake some new, different colors on your cake, but so that you can direct more energy toward time spent together with the One who gave up everything for love of YOU.