Focus: Keeping it simple
Romans 8:5 (NIV) Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.
Today my husband and I went for a significant kayak ride on one of the lakes of my childhood. We put in at a county park I remember going to with some of the children from our church when I was somewhere between five and ten years old. I remember how hard it was to walk on the unpaved parking lot. My feet were very tender because I didn’t go barefoot very often. I remember walking very gingerly—trying to keep the sharp stones from hurting me. I don’t remember much about the water or who in particular was part of the group—just that it was hard to walk without my shoes on.
As we paddled our way across the west shore of the lake, heading north to the channel where our former summer cottage sat, I couldn’t help but notice all of the beautiful homes along the way. I had done a considerable amount of sail boating and water skiing on the lake in my lifetime, but not for forty years, at least.
Back then, there was a considerable amount of undeveloped area, interrupted every now and then by a tiny cottage or a cluster of tiny cottages. There were a few two story homes on the lake at that time, but nothing fancy. It was a lake where people spent summers and lived the simple life of swimming, boating, fishing, and laying around in hammocks under the tall oak trees.
The years have definitely made a massive change on the landscape. The homes I saw today were mostly large. You could spot a few that had been skillfully remodeled to include the older cottage with a huge addition, but it was obvious that many of the newer homes now occupied the space where a few tiny cottages had sat in the past on the then typical 50 to 100 foot wide lots along the shoreline. It was fascinating to see the display of modern and modernized homes—mostly all well kept—sparkling just like the water. Every now and then, I spotted a tiny cottage survivor, and wondered how much longer it would look that way.
Architecture is just one of the ways our culture has experienced a revolutionary change in the past fifty years. The standard of living has escalated by amazing proportions. Having a summer cottage was a status symbol in the years of my youth—but today, social expectations are so much higher.
In this age, ‘more is better’ in the minds of young professionals. Trying to keep up or measure up could cause a person to go deeply into debt or feel like a failure, if they haven’t been able to acquire a respectable amount of ‘stuff’.
Magazines and media portray perfect looking young people enjoying ‘the good life’ in homes fit for a king and driving cars that cost more than an average home. No wonder depression is rampant. No wonder people turn to drugs and alcohol as a way of coping with their feelings of inadequacy.
Amidst the parade of homes we passed, I saw the occasional real estate sign. There was an assortment of properties available. Some medium sized homes and some large ones. I couldn’t help thinking about the reasons people sell homes. Sometimes someone has had a change of employment and they need to relocate to another area. Other times, someone has passed away and the house has to be sold to satisfy the ones who have inherited the estate. There may also be the case where someone started out in a small house they have now outgrown—and there could be the house that became too big when the children grew up and moved away.
Besides the real estate that comes on the market for the usual reasons–-many of the homes on the market today are ones that were built when money was easy to borrow and loans were big. When the economy dipped, the owners were no longer able to enjoy the good life as financial pressures mounted.
There is a new trend in housing today called ‘tiny homes’. Some people have realized that the jumbo houses and mortgages were not all they were cracked up to be and they are chasing a new dream where they can live at peace and have more time to enjoy the simple things. ‘Simple’ is the new ‘good life’.
Declaration: I will find new strength by embracing the simple life. I will find peace by seeking the Spirit instead of stuff.
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