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Embrace Simplicity

Updated: Dec 5, 2022

The air conditioning hummed in our comfortable minivan as we travelled down a small, dusty road in Mexico.  Each of us in our small group had wanted to get off of the beaten path of tourist trinkets, resort areas and the mediocre Tex-Mex often served there.

My eyes were fastened on the lush scenery we were quickly passing by, mile after mile of damp jungle and tropical rainforest.  Our guide, an elderly gentleman named Miguel with kind eyes and a broad grasp of English, talked as we drove.

The tour of the Mayan ruins was behind us.  Now, we were heading toward a sleepy little village where the modern-day descendants of the Mayans lived.  Miguel began to explain how the Mayans had not only survived but flourished within the dense jungle for many hundreds of years.  But what he shared next caught my attention, tearing my eyes away from the many shades of green flashing by.

“Three seeds,” Miguel began, holding up 3 tanned, slim fingers.  “That was all the Mayan people needed.  They would dig a hole, and place in a corn seed, a bean seed and a squash seed.  The corn would grow up sturdy and tall, providing the bean a pole to grow up on.  The squash would grow out, providing shade and protection for the tender roots just below the ground.  The three plants worked together in harmony to repel natural pests and keep the ground fertile because they each gave off different nutrients that benefitted the other.  The Mayans gained 17 of the 20 amino acids the body needs to function well from those three plants.  The rest they augmented with fruit, nuts and game from the forest.  But that was all they really needed: three seeds.”

The van finally turned into a residential area with tiny homes on either side.  Many were colorful, painted in vibrant turquoise, emerald green and cobalt blue with murals of blooming flowers and smiling people adorning them.  But several were falling down upon themselves, clearly forlorn and neglected.

Miguel continued, “You will notice several abandoned homes in this neighborhood.  Electricity changed everything here.  Before, the people in this village didn’t need to work.  They planted their gardens using the 3 seeds method in their backyard.  They spent time tending to their garden, crafting and spending time together as a community.  Families were very close and [spent] much time together.”

Miguel paused, gathering his thoughts. His features changed ever so slightly then, a heaviness creeping in that hadn’t been there moments before.  “Electricity has been both a good and a bad thing for the people.  Obviously it brought convenience.  But it also brought TV.  Suddenly the boys and girls learned about Cheetos and restaurants.  They heard about all different kinds of food.  They wanted cell phones.  They didn’t want to wear the traditional embroidered clothes anymore or eat the squash and the beans and the corn; they wanted jeans and t-shirts so they could look like the people on the TV.  So now the parents have to go into town to get a job.  The children grow up and they leave so they can go work hard to make money to buy stuff.”

He looked at us with a small, sad half-smile.  “I don’t know that the electricity was worth it.”

I sat in silence in my comfy artificial environment, stunned.  The deeper truth behind Miguel’s words hit me at my core.  The people had been happy, self-sufficient.  They had family they loved and a community where their lives had been welcomed and celebrated.  Ancestors, long since passed, were remembered and honored.  They were healthy and well fed.  Their lives had meaning, dignity.  And they left it for Cheetos and blue jeans simply because someone told them their lives weren’t enough.  Just like Adam and Eve in the garden.  Just like me.

Please know I am not saying Cheetos or blue jeans are bad things.  I happily lick my orange encrusted fingers whenever I go through a bag, and blue jeans are my go-to most days!

What I am pointing out is how tricky the enemy is.  We can have everything we need before us–a home, family, enough food, our needs met–and still feel like we’re missing out on something because the deceiver of our souls is constantly whispering, “It is not enough.  You are not enough.  You need more…”

Now, what the “more” is varies from person to person.  For some, it’s money or possessions and status. For others, it’s appearance and how they look.  Many try to find security in their relationships.  If we don't achieve our version of "more," we feel empty. If we do achieve our version of "more," we feel empty. Why? Because there is nothing in this world that can truly validate us.

At the end of the day, Jesus makes it very clear our security doesn’t lie in what we have, what we do or our status–all the things we tend to worry about.  He tells us quite plainly:

“This is why I tell you to never be worried about your life, for all that you need will be provided, such as food, water, clothing—everything your body needs. Isn’t there more to your life than a meal? Isn’t your body more than clothing?  So then, forsake your worries! Why would you say, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear? For that is what the unbelievers chase after. Doesn’t your heavenly Father already know the things your bodies require?  So above all, constantly chase after the realm of God’s kingdom and the righteousness that proceeds from him. Then all these less important things will be given to you abundantly. Refuse to worry about tomorrow, but deal with each challenge that comes your way, one day at a time.  Tomorrow will take care of itself” (Matthew 6:25, 31-34 TPT).  

I am challenged to keep my relationship with God front and center.  He alone will chase away the worry and remind me I am indeed enough. He whispers confidently into my ear that I am more than a conqueror because he has me, and he loves me well (Romans 8:37). He is my three beans and together, we are enough.

FOR FURTHER THOUGHT  What are your three things?  What most matters to you in this world?  How are you investing your time, talent and treasure in relation to those three things?  This week, look for ways to celebrate what really matters in your life, ways you can embrace simplicity.  And make time to remember and thank God that you are, indeed, enough!

PRAYER  Papa, how worldly my thoughts can be sometimes.  I get so caught up in the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth and forget what truly matters.  Would you help me to put first things first today, to focus in on what you would focus in on in my life.  I count my blessings before you and thank you for each one.  Amen.  

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