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Minimalism from a Biblical Point of View —

Biblical Minimalism© is "a complete, whole-person release of anything unlike Jesus, a letting go of everything that hinders us from following Him wholeheartedly and single-mindedly, and a relinquishing of all that brings us under bondage to this earthly, very temporary life." Cheryl E. Smith

Saturday, July 21, 2018

How Leaning Into God's Will Contributes To A Simple Life


Life on earth is made up of a series of peaks and valleys—trials and victories. Fighting against the ebb and flow of what is beyond our control is as exhausting and futile as trying to manipulate the ocean’s tide. What will be will be, and there is very little over which we have any control.

Life’s punches hit out of nowhere, upsetting normal routines and predictability and fall into the “accept the things I cannot change” category of Reinhold Niebuhr’s Serenity Prayer. Loved ones die, leaving us behind in a state of shock and bereavement. Sickness strikes, interrupting the best-laid plans. Cars and appliances break down forcing expensive repair and replacement costs. Jobs are lost due to downsizing, outsourcing, or other reasons beyond the scope of our preferences and decisions. Relationships end regardless of how much we don’t want them to. Such is life, and as Christians walking through life in the human condition, we are not exempt.

Jesus said, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (KJV)

And the Apostle Peter said, “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: but rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.” I Peter 4:12 (KJV)

Trials are inevitable, but they are not random. God is winnowing our path. Nothing escapes His watchful eye, and everything that touches our lives has passed through the filter of His hand first. When we don’t understand His logic, we must trust His wisdom.

Early in our marriage, my husband and I adopted two Chow puppies. They were beyond adorable, but oh, the stubbornness behind that cuteness! We found ourselves in way over our heads when it came to taming their spirited nature, so we made the decision to enroll them in obedience classes. There, we learned an exercise that was a tremendously successful tool in conquering more than just the will of our puppies.

We were to hold the puppies, one at a time, in the palm of our hands, forcing them to remain on their backs. Can you imagine the squirming? They wriggled and whimpered and wore themselves completely out trying with all their might to figure out a way to escape the firmness of our grasp. The instructor insisted that we did not give in, but resolutely hold them in place while talking to them in a commanding but gentle tone. The first time we tried, the discipline was extremely exhausting—for us and for the puppies. The next time it got just a bit easier, as they remembered not only our refusal to let them have their own way but more importantly they recalled that we did not let them fall. With time and consistency, the puppies squirmed less and less as their trust in us grew more and more.

Around this time of puppy training, we experienced several distressing situations. My 40-year-old brother-in-law died, unexpectedly. My Dad, who lived near us, became seriously ill and was hospitalized at the same time my mother-in-law, who lived out of state, was diagnosed with cancer. There were more family deaths and concerning health issues, including the heartbreaking beginning of many years of infertility. Job stress and other hardships flooded our lives, and to say we were completely overwhelmed is a huge understatement.

We began to see the change in our puppies and the futility of their intense struggle against strength that was beyond their own. Ultimately, we were the ones in control, and as we convinced them they were safe in our hands, they began to learn that squirming would not change the outcome, and they could release their fears and let go knowing we were not going to let them fall. We began to recognize that the lessons our puppies were learning were also intended for us.

Our faith in God taught us that He has a plan for each of our lives and His arms are always underneath, holding tightly, refusing to let us go. Even though we often squirmed during that season of severe trials, we came to see that struggling against what was meant to be was only making things more difficult. Trust is a learned practice, and as God brought us through each situation, we began to squirm less and trust more, knowing there was a power greater than our own ability, and no matter what, we would be okay.

That season and many other hard seasons have passed, each one instilling a deeper sense of trust. In due time, God answered our many prayers and miraculously blessed us with one beautiful baby boy of our very own who is now a teenager and graces our lives and home with such joy every, single day.

We’re still learning. I won’t say we never squirm, but I will say we have learned to squirm less over the course of our 30 years of marriage. Learning to trust God instead of squirm against Him and His perfect will is truly the path to peace.

10 comments:

  1. Dear Cheryl,
    What a beautiful object lesson, given at just the right time from the Lord! Oh, how I pra that I would squirm less and less in the Hand of my Savior. But I know that I have so much further to go. Thank you for sharing these words today. They were so much what I needed to hear. Blessings, love and hugs to you Dear Friend!

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    1. Dear friend! I think of you so often and pray for you. I trust you are enjoying your summer and feeling better. May the dear Lord continue to bless you and hold you extra close. One thing I am learning ~ the closer I stay to Jesus the less room I have to squirm! Sadly, I am so prone to pulling away from Him instead of closer to Him when things are rough. I am learning though. Sending much love to you today!

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  2. The lessons in this post are many dear Cheryl. It is not always easy to release our fears into God's hands. You are correct that in doing so we gain peace and contentment.

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    1. So true, sweet friend. So very thankful for your precious encouragement. Thinking of you and praying for you and sending hugs your way!

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  3. Cheryl, thank you for this beautiful and timely lesson. The analogy of the squirming puppies is so like us. How often I have squirmed in the hands of my Lord and Savior. Life is hard and there are many trials, but He faithfully holds us. We have an only son that we prayed for over twelve years. He is now 32 and he and his lovely wife have given us our granddaughter. Blessings and hugs sweet friend.

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    1. Oh, what a wonderful testimony! It sounds like we have so much in common! We struggled with infertility for many years, and after 12 1/2 years of marriage, God sent our dear son to us. That is so sweet that your son is now 32 and married and God has blessed you with your granddaughter. She must be the one I see in your posts ~ such a little doll! I am so thankful for your support and encouragement. Sending love and hugs to you today!

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  4. What a great analogy and great info about puppy training! It's so much better when we learn to squirm less, isn't it! Thanks for sharing, Cheryl. Pinning this one.

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    1. Yes, my friend, it surely is so much better when we just lean in and allow God to have His way. Struggling and squirming wears us completely out and is so futile. I am so thankful for your visit today, Donna, and very grateful for your support! God bless you!

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  5. What a beautiful testimony to the things that we can learn in tough situations! And how wonderful to learn to trust Him so completely and wholly that we do not fear or cry when held firmly in his grasp while the storms of life come to us. Such a wonderful thought to ponder, dear friend! We are safe in His hands and in His care! Many blessings and hugs to you today :)

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    1. So wonderful to see your sweet comment, dear friend! I am going to come over and visit you ~ I see that you posted, too!! So thankful for your support and encouragement and trust all is well with you! Many blessings and hugs back to you today!!

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