Why Do You Have to Go & Make Things So Complicated? {For When You’re Stuck}

Our tendency is to overcomplicate spiritual growth. So spoke the preacher.

And the room grew uncomfortably warm

and the walls moved in

and for a moment my imagination tricked me into believing that necks had spun

and all eyes were looking at me.

Complicated. That one little word was the very big elephant that followed me everywhere I went in 2011. It seemed just about everything in my life was complicated. When your mom comes down with cancer and she lives two states away, your emotions overcomplicate themselves with fear and guilt and frustrated compassion. When your body can’t make up its mind about how to respond to an autoimmune issue, each day is a mysterious lottery pick of symptoms. When your job sucks {as in literally sucking the life out of you} and your job is your ministry, your calling overcomplicates itself with confusion, disappointment, resignation, and ungodly uncertainty. Introduce uncertainty into a life and it will want to overcomplicate things with an insatiable desire to control. Trust me, it’s like giving a mouse a cookie–he’ll need a glass milk to go with it (Numeroff, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, 1985.)

2011 was about me overcomplicating my faith. Like a tumbleweed increasing its circumference with gathered sticks, my faith was twisted with unrealistic expectations of God and others, doubt, and restlessness. Like every other tumbleweed, I was blown about crashing into life. Now, as I look back at the unassembled ball of sticks, it is quite frightful to think how easy it was to get myself into that prickly mess.

After a year like that, it would be natural to fear that this will be another year in which I overcomplicate life. Another year to fear that I will sit, wait and beg of the Lord for the same things I did last year.

But then there is this story about a man who was lame from birth. Without working legs and in an overcomplicated process of survival, this man is carried everyday to the temple to beg for alms. Sitting everyday expecting something–money, food, maybe a kind word–expecting less than what he needs. His real need is to walk. So.he.doesn’t.have.to.keeping.sitting.in.the.very.same.place.day.after.day.after.day.

You know how the story goes. He meets two of Jesus’ apostles. They don’t give him money, food, or just a mere kind word. By the authority of the name of Jesus, they give him legs that walk. They don’t overcomplicate it. They know Jesus’s words were “Come, follow Me.” If this man is going to follow Jesus, he needs legs that walk.

If I had been the lame {wo}man I would have so overcomplicated the moment. “Where should I go?” “What should I do.” “I only know how to be lame.” {Can I get an ‘Amen.’} “How ever shall I be ‘me’ with legs that walk?” “This is the only place I’ve known. What if being stuck here is safer than where I go?” And then I hear Avril’s song playing in my head,

“Why do you have to go and make things so complicated?
I see the way you’re acting like your somebody else gets me frustrated
Life’s like this you
You fall and you crawl and you break
and you take what you get and you turn it into honesty
promise me I’m never gonna find you fake it
no no no” (Avril Lavigne, “Complicated”)

What does the lame man do? He just walks. He takes a step. His very first step in a new direction; discovering the exhilaration of no longer being a lame sitter, he leaps. He praises God. The text says, “With a leap he stood upright and began to walk; and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping, and praising God” (Acts 3:8). Nothing complicated about it.

We I can do the same thing too. I can leap up from this overcomplicated place I’ve been sitting in day.after.day.after.day and just start walking and leaping and praising God. All it takes is a willingness to take one step. One step forward.

One step forward, following Jesus. Walking with Jesus. 

It means that in relationships that are complicated, I just simply walk toward that person in love. In a calling that is complicated, I just simply take a step forward convinced of what I do know, “By this will all men know that you are my disciple if you have love for one another.” In complicated matters of health, I keep walking in the grace that has been called sufficient in weakness. Whatever the complicated matter is, one step forward may be the game changer. 

If we think clearly about it, there’s really nothing complicated about getting close enough to Jesus to experience His mercy, love, power, grace, and healing. Just take a step toward Him. Then keep walking and leaping and praising God.

Simple? Yes.

Simple and powerful. “And all the people saw him walking and praising God; and they were taking note of him as being the one who used to sit at the Beautiful Gate of the temple to beg alms, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him” Acts 3:9-10.

What will a step forward look like for you?

2 thoughts on “Why Do You Have to Go & Make Things So Complicated? {For When You’re Stuck}

  1. Great post Brenda. As I read it I thought about Peter walking on the water. Jesus moved towards him but it seems like, in Scripture, Peter moved got out of the boat first. Those first steps can be hard, but Jesus always moved to meet us! Alleluia. God Bless, Mike

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