a child looking at the sky in wonder

A Reduced Life

In Life Lessons by Tommy Thompson6 Comments

I ran across a quote in a sermon recently that I can’t get out of my mind. The quote is from Eugene Peterson who said, “A solved life is a reduced life.” So many layers come to mind for me. I am wired to drive and figure out everything around me. I analyze why certain things are happening. Always striving to become my most effective self. Basically, I constantly pursue solving the equation of life. It’s not just me. I watch what happens anytime someone asks a question in my family where the answer is not immediately known.Phones come out, and the definitive answer is retrieved in a matter of seconds. We have come to expect that all problems can be resolved if we only apply ourselves. We operate with the illusion that life can and eventually will be solved. What heights of arrogance!

Life in a neat box

As Peterson notes, our life is reduced when we buy into the illusion that life, our life, can be solved. A solved life is explainable and therefore controllable. Life in a nice, neat box. While this may make us temporarily feel better, we inevitably learn that controlling life is not possible. A single phone call or diagnosis will rid us of that idiocy. 

When we think that we are able to master life’s problems, we inevitably lose wonder. We lose curiosity and mystery. We settle for surface answers and miss out on the deeper truths that enrich life. Solvable becomes predictable, and frankly, boring. Proverbs asserts, “There are three things that are too amazing for me, Four that I do not understand: the way of an eagle in the sky, the way of a snake on a rock, the way of a ship on the high seas, and the way of a man with a young woman” (Prov 30: 18-19).

Have we become too enlightened to be amazed any longer? 

Think of a child and the beauty of their exuberance as they discover the wonder of the world around them. Gaze at the stars and be amazed at what we cannot understand.Look at a painting that cannot be solved. Touch a baby’s hand and feel the indescribable. We understand so many intricate issues, and I am glad about it. But the best of life – love, faith, trust, grace – cannot be explained or solved. These are gifts to be enjoyed. Relationships give meaning to life. Faith brings purpose and joy, even though we can’t prove faith. Be thankful that life defies solving.  

Today, become like a child again and linger with a sunrise or a sunset. Listen to the voice of someone you care about and be astonished at the miracle of beautiful human beings. Don’t let cynicism, intellectual arrogance or the drive to always be producing keep you from savoring life. Life is too short and too precious! Don’t let another day go by without being amazed at what is bigger than you or me. 


  1. Love all your postings but this one especially! The beauty of living life in wonder…

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