I was sitting in my first class of my sophomore year of college a few weeks ago, eager to begin a new semester. The class, Short Story Writing, was one I had been eagerly anticipating for weeks. As the professor began the class, going over the syllabus and some of her tips for writing, something she said struck me. Up on the screen was a list of what she calls "junk words" or "filter words". These are words such as "like, as, so, very, much, etc". Words that we use to fill space. The professor made a very brief comment, but it caused me to stop and think.
"There is beauty in simple writing, folks," she said. And that was it, before she moved on to the next matter at hand. I wasn't able to concentrate, though. Her words struck me and I scribbled it down on a post-it note to return to after class.
When I finally had a moment to sit in the quiet and just reflect on the day, I pulled that post-it note out again. "Beauty in simplicity", is what I had written.
A few days before classes started, I was at a campus ministry leadership retreat. While there, the chaplain instructed us to pair up and practice memorizing a verse out of Mark. I partnered up with one of my friends and together we worked on memorizing Mark 6:6-13. At the time, I didn't really understand the point of doing this activity. Even after the chaplain explained to us why he made us do that, I still felt only lukewarm to the whole situation. But the activity never left my mind.
Fast forward back to the first day of classes, me sitting in my room looking at my post-it note. The meaning of this activity and the power of the words scribbled on the paper in front of me shook me at full force. Beauty in simplicity.
If you are not familiar with Mark 6:6-13, Jesus gathered his twelve disciples together and "gave them authority over unclean spirits". He gives specific instructions to them- "take nothing for the journey but a walking stick- no food, no sack, no money in their belts. They were, however, to wear sandals but not a second tunic". The story continues with a few more expectations Jesus has for them. I went back to this story and sat with it for awhile, and this is what I discovered.
The beauty of simplicity is that it is simple. So often, I make up these elaborate plans, full of beautiful things and important people. I disregard God's words in Mark 6 and bring more to the table than what I need. I complicate my life with the baggage I insist on carrying around with me, not realizing that God has given us everything we need. The story told in Mark is one of simplicity. Jesus is sending his disciples out into the world with the power to overcome unclean spirits, but tells them to bring only a walking stick. If I were in the disciples shoes, understanding the full weight of responsibility that was being placed on my shoulders, I would want more than a walking stick. I would doubt what that I would be able to accomplish the mission set in front of me. I am confident that all of the disciples were thinking the same things.
I so often get distracted with the big and shiny things life has to offer. I over complicate things, disregarding the fact that God has already equipped me with everything I need. I need to trust in the simplicity of this message. I don't need an army or fancy oils or a big shiny badge- I just need a walking stick. God equips the called, and he has given the called everything we need to complete whatever it is he needs us to do.
The beauty of simplicity is that it is simple- it's as simple as that.