"Simplicity and the Cemetery" by Randi Nelson

“The Lord preserves the simple” (Psalm 116:6a). I’ve always sort of understood that verse as referring to the feeble, unsophisticated, poor or underendowed. But the other day as I read it again, I felt what Pastor Shannon Kearney used to refer to as a spiritual speed bump … that bounce that says, “Slow down, pay attention.”

So I researched the Hebrew word translated as “simple”. It comes from a root word that means to open; to be or make roomy. In other words, this verse could be read this way; “The Lord preserves the open, the roomy, the ones who quiet the noise and clear the clutter.” Ouch.

Life is noisy. My head gets full of stuff: to do lists, appointments, fatigue, failure. It gets full of arguments, both internal and external; full of worries, fears and yes … FUN! But even when it is fun, the stuff of life can drag a mind and spirit down; we can be “brought low” as it says in verse 2.

Becoming “simple”, to make one’s spirit “roomy” requires decisiveness. It requires a break in habit or pattern. It takes an act of willful openness. And then the Spirit comes forward with a little nudge, a quiet embrace, a word that encourages or enlightens.

But honestly, I have trouble, especially in the realm of unproductive habits, making room for His ministry. I can identify lots of important stuff that I want to talk with him about. But it all gets to be a jumble. Perhaps that is why something Mike Mercer recently said is resonating in the meditations of my heart. He said, “Invite God into your cemetery.”

So Simple: Identify what is dead. Open up and invite God in. Somehow this two category system, Life or Death, short circuits the complexity. It brings a degree of honesty that I could comfortably skirt with a bigger system of labels. “Lord, You know that habit of ___ that is making me crazy? I want to be real. It isn’t a matter of how I was raised; it is a matter of tombstones. Would you come into this dead place?”

Psalm 116:3-9 – “The cords of death encompassed me, and the terrors of Sheol came upon me; I found distress and sorrow. Then I called upon the name of the Lord: ‘O Lord, I beseech Thee, save my life!’

“Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; Yes our God is compassionate.

“The Lord preserves the simple; I was brought low, and He saved me. Return to your rest, O my soul, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.

For [God] has rescued my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling. I shall walk before the Lord in the land of the living.”

Praise the saving, gracious, righteous, compassionate, bountiful preserving God!