The Simple Answer

By way of explaining an illustration, the 3rd-grade Sunday school teacher asked the class,  “What is small and grey, has a long fluffy tail and gathers nuts?” Every student was self-consciously quiet.  Finally, she asked, “Billy, I know you know this answer.  What do you think?”  Billy responded quietly, “Well, it sure sounds like a squirrel… but, I’m going to say, ‘Jesus’!”  Billy wrongly assumed that the simple answer just couldn’t be the correct one.

We are often like “Billy.”  Especially in the most important issues, we struggle with the question before us, pursuing the complex solution and rejecting the simple.  It may be our self-sufficient pride or stubbornness that prompts us to resist the obvious.  Whatever the cause, it is often so difficult for us to believe:  The solutions to the most important questions are often the simple answers.

The most important question of all was asked of Paul and Silas, by the Philippian Jailer, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”  Their answer is startling in its simplicity.  “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved…”  (Acts 16:30-31)

We try to make it complex – or worse, confusing.  We want to add to the answer.  We want to invest more effort, work-harder, somehow prove that we deserve that for which we are asking.  Regarding the important issue of eternal salvation, people stumble over simply receiving a gift.

Or again, consider the question, “How can I be the kind of person I want to be?”  An important question that Jesus answered in this way, “he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”  (John 15:5)  It is simply a matter of surrender and dependence… and resting.  We insist on making it more complex.

In the church, or in business, we routinely reject the simple, in favor of the complex.  It may be that, a we’ve-never-done-it-that-way-before attitude gets in the way.  It may be that the stress of the problem we face is so great that the solution “just can’t be that simple!”  Whatever the root-cause, we miss the point.  We become overwhelmed… and stuck.  This is the value of gaining wisdom from multiple counselors. (Proverbs 15:22)  This is the role of the outside consultant or coach – to help us gain clarity – to point-out to us the simple solution.

Sometimes I read something by some authority or expert and you find myself thinking, “Well I knew that!”  Then, I think, “So, why didn’t I ACT on it?”  Why wasn’t I the one who wrote it, or taught it?  I had been so absorbed in considering the weight or complexity of the issue that I was missing the simple answer.  Someone had to tell me!

It is true that “simple” does not necessarily mean “easy.”  However, neither does “complex” lead to “more valuable,” or “more helpful,” or “more productive.”  Just because a solution is difficult to accomplish does not mean that it has to be unclear or difficult-to-understand.  Often, the solution that is clearly stated, in simple terms, will more likely be accomplished.

If the solution is not readily understood; or, if it is too complex to readily apply, the answer is probably not sufficiently clear and/or the question itself is not the one that needs to be asked.  Pray for clarity.  By faith, be satisfied to pursue the simple, and likely, the most obvious solution.

The solutions to the most important questions are often the simple answers.

~ 11.12.06
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