In paradise life was simple. We walked with God in the Garden, speaking with him as a friend to a friend. We did not worry about what we would eat or what we would wear, or what tomorrow would bring. We lived with an intimate awareness that the Lord God had it all under control. Furthermore, we only had to worry about keeping one commandment: stay away from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
Life became more tangled for the human race the minute we decided that we didn’t need God to get along in the world, that we could become lords of our own life. St. Paul shares these words of concern for the Christians in Corinth: “But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. (2 Corinthians 11:3)” It is our stubborn insistence that we know better than God that has made life much more complicated than it needs to be.
In my life, whenever I’ve tried to push an issue that I really knew belonged to God and not to me, I have made the situation more difficult and protracted. Many things in life go a lot smoother when we keep our hands out of them. As the Good Book says — “Be still and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10)”
To truly feel God’s active presence in our lives we must step out of the way and let him work. Keeping it simple, therefore, is essential. The more we try to “do” — the more we try and manipulate situations, the more motivated we are by our own subjective expectations and presuppositions, the less God can act.
Each of us should look at our lives with an eye for trimming away the excess baggage that might be in God’s way. Simplifying our life, even things like how we pray, is the secret to the greatest spiritual growth possible. Simplicity frees us of the compulsion to “get it right” – “right” usually being that which I have subjectively decided is right. This opens the door for God to do his work in our lives.