A Life Examined

"The unexamined life is not worth living," Socrates says.

I am beginning to understand this simple quote in deeper ways as I delve into a more deliberate practice of self-examination.

The past three months since I returned from my one month solo backpacking trip up the Australian East Coast, I have been spending less time 'doing things' and more time sitting down and contemplating my life and where God's taking me next. I've realized that I want a simple life. By 'simple', I do not mean boring or plain or unadventurous - to the contrary! 'The simple life' in this context simply means a life that is uncluttered, undivided and no longer distracted by all the non-essentials.

I want my life and my pursuits to be entirely focused on what matters for the present and for Eternity.  As I live each day with this new growing perspective shaping my heart and mind, I realize how difficult it is to listen to God's voice when all around me is endless noise.

Looking back on the last three months, I now realize how much time I've been spending just sitting at the kitchen table - my new favorite place in the home. I'd just sit there, often late into the night, reading my Bible or an inspirational thought-provoking book, journaling and writing and musing. Sometimes I'd play on my guitar or ukelele and end up walking around the kitchen singing worship songs or writing a new song myself. These are the moments I love - when the house has gone quiet, and everyone else is in bed. These are the times I quieten the noise in my mind and allow my thoughts to be filtered by the truth of God's word. These are the moments that I ask myself the 'why' questions and allow myself to confront my failures and doubts.

The one thing I have learnt from these hidden moments is that there are no short cuts to a 'simple life'. There are no short cuts to encountering Jesus. There are no magic formulas to discovering your destiny. It takes discipline, and desperation. But I just need to remember an encouragement in that verse in the book of James that says, "Draw near to Him and He will draw near to you."

I can say that this has proven true over the months and years of my life. God is so  faithful and so true. Often, it is not He who abandons me, but I who go my own way, walk out of His love and light, and forsake the Truth I once discovered. I see now how far I've gone. I want to come back because this is the best place to be. I may sound like a lunatic, but I know now that nothing in this world can satisfy me apart from a living and loving relationship with Jesus. I've tried to go on without Him, but I only ended up a mess - void of love, empty of truth.

The turning point only came when life's circumstance forced me to stop everything to examine my heart and my life. That's when I realized that although I appeared to have it all together, on the inside I was full of pride, self-centeredness and hypocrisy.  I realized that I didn't even fully know my own heart, and my capacity for evil. Yes, evil. I am capable of it. But once I faced up with my depravity of heart, once I surrendered my brokenness to God - every, single, shattered piece - He was able to put me back together again in His love and mercy and saving grace.

How can one even begin to describe the feeling of redemption and hope? Only the man who sees his own wretchedness and lostness can experience the wonder of God's amazing, saving grace and love -  because he has given up his pride and self-sufficiency. It's beyond words. I am only here to write this because of what He has done for you and me.

~ J a n i e ll e

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