Surrendering life’s complications

Text bubbles and notifications float away from an illustrated watch on a wrist | illustration by Matt ChinworthLAST YEAR, I was given an Apple watch. I’m a longtime Apple enthusiast, so this was an exciting day for me. Now that I’ve had the watch a while, I still like many things about it. I’ve also learned something important about myself from having the device.

Maybe you’ll relate. On the watch, you can display anything you want when you tap the screen. Your watch face can show you Mickey or Minnie Mouse, the logo of your favorite sports team, or a family photo. Or you can choose one of the many Apple-designed watch faces. Here’s where the learning kicks in.

An Apple watch face doesn’t just display the time or date. It can check the weather, show emails, or even open your garage door. Do you know what Apple calls these customizations? Complications.

I’ve had fun developing just the specific “complications” I want to easily access — weather, email, text messages, etc. Very helpful.

Very insightful about my life … and maybe for yours as well. We live in times when we’re able to access more information than at any other time in human history. Rather than waiting for weeks or even months for a loved one’s letter, we can text or FaceTime our loved ones the moment a medical test result arrives. Or the moment we find out whether we were accepted into
our college of choice. Or the moment we see the cutest puppy video.

Look at your life with open hands. Ask yourself what you can let go of.

Even though I can access an unimaginably wide range of topics in seconds via technology wrapped around my wrist, I find I’m looking for less. Fewer complications. Fewer distractions when sitting with my wife and kids around the dinner table. Fewer intrusions on my thoughts when I’m taking a break from work. The stresses and distractions I often wrestle with don’t seem
like a very good fleshing out of what Jesus promised us in Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG):

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me — watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me,  and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.

I want that kind of life. It’s clear our Heavenly Father wants that for his children, too. Just as I get to choose which complications appear on my watch’s face, each day I can choose what occupies my mind.

In these days of COVID-19 concerns and social unrest in America, there is plenty of fuel for an anxious mind. I can jump into each day’s whirlwinds, or I can take a deep breath and whisper a prayer that the Lord will teach me how to take a real rest. When I do this, I discover the simple delights of God’s goodness, and I hear his whispers of affirmation and grace. I am content with less.

Look at your life with open hands. Ask yourself what you can let go of. Sometimes we need only a moment to think of something to release. Sometimes it can take much longer. I’m taking a deep breath as I write these words. I’m surrendering the complications in my life. I don’t want busyness to characterize my days. I want to walk in those beautiful unforced rhythms of grace where Jesus invites us to simplify our lives and join him on the path.

Ed Kerr is the worship arts director at First Free Methodist and adjunct professor of music at SPU.


Illustration by Matt Chinworth

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