Many of us would describe our lives this way, while admitting this isn't what we wanted, right? Who hasn't felt some of the most basic wishes of life have gotten lost in the shuffle of work and Wal-Mart, traffic and time?
Some of the most haunting lyrics I've ever heard come from No Doubt's "Simple Kind of Life", a lament over a lost love and a lost time:
Now all these simple things are simply too complicated for my life;
How'd I get so faithful to my freedom, a selfish kind of life?
When all I ever wanted was the simple things,
A simple kind of life?
And, centuries earlier, one of the most haunting responses from Jesus:
"You are not far from the kingdom of God."
For a long time, I read this response as a rare compliment from Jesus toward His constant questioners among the religious elite, and it certainly is an acknowledgement that this particular "teacher of the law" was on the right track when he agreed with Jesus that loving God and loving neighbor outweigh all burnt offerings and sacrifices.
However, Jesus does not tell this man, "You are thriving within the kingdom of God." He tells him he's close.
How can this be? How can someone identify the very simple priorities of Jesus, and yet only be "close"?
Well, most of us can probably relate, and would probably say it's...complicated.
These simple things are often simply too complicated for our lives, aren't they? Or, if we are to be honest with ourselves, our lives are simply too complicated for these simple things.
Love the Lord your God
with all your heart and with all your soul
and with all your mind and with all your strength.
Love your neighbor as yourself.
What needs to give, what needs to be diminished, what needs to go away, to give these simple priorities the time, space, soil, sunshine and rain they need to flourish and fill us up?
Jesus doesn't think it's complicated.