02/20/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Simplicity Doesn't Mean Easy

Expectations can be dangerous when not shared equally by all sides desiring to address a certain issue. Countless times, I have witnessed people walk away from their faith because their expectations of God were different. Life got messy and God didn't alleviate their problems the way they wanted him to do it. They thought it was going to be easy when in fact it is two simple commands: Love God and love your neighbor.

Simple, however, doesn't always translate into easy. In today's culture, those two words have become synonymous with one another. If it's simple then it must be easy. In certain instances, that might be true. But when it comes to the environment and tackling the larger problems of the day, "simplicity" and "easy" live on opposite horizons.

If our nation is really serious about tackling the environmental decline our world has entered, we need to return to a simpler way of living. Unfortunately, for many Americans duped into thinking the American way is fast, quick and easy, the truth is sobering. Going green may seem easy, but becoming sustainable--the real solution to our environmental problems--is going to be challenging.

I know this firsthand as I began making the transition to a more simplified life a few years ago. In order to do this, my wife Nancy and I moved outside of town with the dream of one day developing a self-sustainable homestead. We still have miles to travel in that journey, but the steps we've taken to simplify our lives have been anything but easy.

For example, when a snowfall hits the homestead, I have to scrape the road just to be able to use it--and this can take hours. After spending more time than I care to spend on a tractor pushing snow to one side of the road or the other, I realized just how difficult this transition was. I would have much rather reclined around a wood-burning stove drinking coffee than moving mounds of snow in the freezing cold.

In these challenging economic times, shortcuts may very well become the rule of the day. Instead of laying the groundwork necessary to become sustainable, people may be tempted to forgo the route that will be more difficult for the one that will be easier on them at the time.

Living simply does not always mean living easily. Do you think firewood magically chops itself? Do you think a garden produces healthy fruits and vegetables on its own? Do roads get snow plowed by themselves?

And if you think simple living can't get any more difficult or backbreaking, come observe my neighbor Craig walk this out every day of his life--on his one good leg. After a recent snowfall, I saw Craig moving snow so others could utilize the road. My neighbor is tireless in his efforts to live sustainably and unwavering in his commitment to helping others, no matter what it may cost him. He inspires me to live more sustainably and remain committed to the cause of caring for the environment no matter how lost it may seem.

Things aren't always as easy as they seem, but in the case of the environment, we must realize that sacrifices must be made to achieve greater sustainability. And while more and more people each day are grasping this fact, the bigger question is this: Are Americans willing to make the sacrifices in the short term necessary in order to put themselves and their children in a more hopeful situation in the future?

Tri Robinson is the pastor of the Vineyard Boise Church in Boise, ID, and author of Saving God's Green Earth and Small Footprint, Big Handprint. He lives on a homestead that is almost fully sustainable and blogs about his adventures there at