As I reflect on the year ahead, I seek to completely simplify my life by focusing on one thing that holds all things together. Is that even possible? I think it is. It is in the nature of truth to be so simple as to be discarded for its simplicity rather than its complexity. It usually sounds too simple or too good to be true and that makes it difficult to accept.
Like many people, I have many expectations this year. I will be much busier in 2011 than 2010 and I have hopes, dreams and desires for all my various roles and responsibilities. In order not to be torn in every direction possible, I need one thing, just one thing, not a million how-tos, do’s and don’ts. To free myself from anxiety and exhaustion, I need knowledge, I need know-how, I need truth. Naturally, I found wisdom in the words of Jesus Christ, who referred to himself as The Truth. Martha had invited Jesus to her house and she was spending a significant amount of time and effort preparing for the Master while Mary her sister simply sat at the feet of Jesus hearing his words. Martha was getting resentful that her sister was doing nothing to help so she asked Jesus to speak to Mary to help with the work. Jesus said to Martha, “You are anxious and troubled about many things; There is need of only one or but a few things. Mary has chosen the good portion [that which is to her advantage], which shall not be taken away from her.”
These words may be oversimplification if they were not spoken by the “greater than Solomon”. It surely does not imply disengagement from daily living and work but it speaks to our anxieties and tendency to complicate our lives. Instead of trying to juggle a billion things in my mind and doing all I can to keep all the balls in the air in 2011, I should focus on the one ball that keeps all others in the air. Jesus said, take no thought, saying what shall we eat, what shall we wear and how shall we obtain all the things we need, but seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all other things will be added. For me, this is cold water in a hot desert. I have many things that I desire to make happen in 2011 without sacrificing my spiritual, mental, emotional and physical wellbeing and that of my family. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God” is therefore more than an advice or a bible quotation but is an overarching strategy of living and being, regardless of calling, that guarantees a fruitful life.
Seeking first the kingdom of God is not religion but a mindset that puts God first and honors the Creator. The servant can do it and the King can do it. It is independent of race, culture, education, social or financial status. According to the truth, the kingdom of God is not external but “is within you.” Seeking the kingdom of God is submitting to the truth and letting my life be guided by it. Truth, I believe, is that which is true, regardless of what I or anyone thinks about it and will be true even if no one thinks about it. It is true at the beginning and at the end, whether I believe it or not, whether I act on it or not. Wisdom demands however, that I act on it. It is in my power to act but if I do not act on it, it does not change the truth, it only confirms it and I will be worse off at the end of the year. According to a statement I found several years ago in Stephen Covey’s “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, “we do not break principles, we only break ourselves against them.” Truth is the same.
Effectively, how this year turns out hinges on putting God first and doing everything I do with the goal of honoring God who is Love, without being anxious at all about “success” in my various roles. This one thing I do takes the burden of “success” off me and transfers it to the Creator who is intelligent and dependable enough to keep the universe and all its constituents and ecosystems in operation, who has given an open invitation to “come unto me all ye who labour and are heavy-laden”.
As Victor Frankl said, “Success, like happiness cannot be pursued, it must ensue, as an unintended by-product of a person’s dedication to a cause greater than themselves.” No cause is greater than the kingdom of God, which is Internal, albeit with visible, tangible out-workings and the pursuit of it is the one thing that guarantees a fruitful day, a fruitful year, a fruitful life.