By Amanda Petersen
I made a decision this past year to simplify my life.
Im not going to lie and say it was because I saw need around me, responded to that need, and was left with only the basics for myself. The decision was based on what I felt to be a leading from God. Call me simple, but I believed that itd be quite a bit easier to follow Christ if I didnt so much junk to carry with me.
It started with a move across the country to begin full time work with a ministry organization. It would be much easier if I only brought what I could pack into the luggage allowances for the airplane, so thats what I did. Everything else I sold or gave away. Over ten grocery bags full of clothes were passed along, as well as furniture, electronics, bedding, and anything else that I had built my life around. Besides a few boxes of pictures, yearbooks, and other memories that I left with family, my life fit into two suitcases and a backpack.
But it didnt stop there. My wardrobe continued to decrease as I felt more and more led to a life of materialistic simplicity. Clothes were just about the only thing that I had to give away, so I did. My apparel choices are quite simple now. If you saw my closet you may wonder how over-flowing my laundry bag must be. The truth is that Im wearing the dirty laundry.
Did I mention in the midst of this that I was bringing in an income that covered my student loan payment, my phone bill, a bag of groceries, and a tank of gas each month? I believed that this is where I was supposed to be and was trusting that God would provide
And he did.
Upon my move from Portland to Atlanta, I was now without a home and, provided my current circumstance, without a way to pay for rent. A couple who I barely knew invited me into their home, rent free, for an indefinite period of time. I ended up living there for over three months, and we now consider each other family.
At one point, I was without groceries, or money. The next day I received a box full of food in the mail.
A friend from home was asking about my living situation. I told her, amongst other things, about how I use my sleeping bag. She not only gave me sheets, but an amazing blanket that had taken her three months to knit by hand.
Throughout this whole time, I have driven cars that have been lent to me. Ive had random people in my life fill up my gas tank. I have received support funds from people I do not know, and cash passed along to me from acquaintances. I was given a pillow, books, and soap. This has happened without once asking for assistance, financially or otherwise.
We dont have to look far to find evidence of how God provides for the needy. Ive seen first hand God deliver groceries, utility bill payments, and other wants and needs into the hands of people. I suppose that I never allowed myself to be needy enough in my own life to allow him to provide, and my life was probably far too cluttered to even notice if he did. If I am presently living in eternity, and his providence is received here, I now understand why we were told that it is difficult for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom.
I want to clarify that by no means am I implying that my situation has been one of desperation. At any point, I could have left the work that I was doing, gotten an hourly job, and provided for myself. I realize that there are people who do not have this option. Their dependence is one that seems to come much more naturally and gracefully than my own.
What I am left to believe is that this simplicity and abandonment in my life has brought about an ability to recognize Gods hand at work. I have gone from focusing on the visible, to being able to recognize the unseen. To me, the intriguing part is that I know that I havent arrived. Is this not just the beginning?
I never want to go back to a place in my life where I count on my own efforts to get by. In the past, had I been given a place to stay for the night, a free meal, or a blanket, I would have considered it a nice gesture. Now, I consider it love; love from my provider, and love from Gods church doing what it was created to do.
Amanda Petersen is a writer for a non-profit discipleship and mobilization organization based outside of Atlanta, GA. Amanda’s current projects include writing for and editing Wrecked, as well as research and writing for a book on the need for initiation in American society.