When life gets complicated

When life gets complicated

Here is a picture all too familiar to most families. A young boy dismantles a clock. He wants to see what makes it tick, and if possible make it tick again and even better than before. As he tries to reassemble the clock you might hear him say with some frustration, “It’s kind of complicated. There are more pieces left over than I know what to do with.”

While we can laugh at the boy’s frustration and plight, we could make similar statements about our grownup lives. Life has a way of getting complicated. There are more parts to it than we know what to do with.

“The Prince and the Pauper” by Mark Twain is the wonderful tale of a prince who wanted to get away from his complicated life of royalty to live a simple life among the peasants. The prince was soon to discover that regardless of where he lived or in what conditions, life is complicated. There is inside every person a deep desire to escape from the responsibilities and challenges that overwhelm us. It’s like drowning in a sea of demands. Alfred Tennyson writes of the Duke of Wellington:

Foremost captain of his time, Rich in saving common-sense, And, as the greatest only are, In his simplicity sublime.

“As the greatest only are” is correct. The greatest souls often baffle us because they possess what I call “the simplicity of heart.” We find this quality in the one figure who stands head and shoulders above all, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus understood and committed his life to one principle that helps us navigate the broken pieces of life. This simple carpenter encountered the complexities of life and rose to triumphant heights. The writer of Hebrews reports that Jesus said it this way: “Here I am! I have come to do your will.” It is in seeking to stay focused on God’s will, God’s purpose for us, that we overcome life’s complexities.

I once wrote in one of my old sermons, “Whenever you find well integrated personalities you find individuals with a dominant purpose in life. Whether it is a Napoleon with a purpose for conquest ... a Marcus Garvey with the purpose of saving his people, or a John Wesley with the purpose of evangelizing England and the world, you will find some dominant purpose as the integrating factor.”

Jesus said it this way: “First, seek the kingdom of God and God’s righteousness.” When life gets complicated, try to identify your organizing principle. If the principle isn’t “seek God first,” then I would consider that your life is complicated and confusing because your base is off center.

It is only as we seek to do God’s will that life makes sense, frustrations disappear, problems become possibilities, anger gives way to hope, and dead ends become a trail to success.