We escape to our refuge in God, Hohnberger says. Jim Hohnberger achieved the American dream.
A successful insurance agent, Hohnberger had a house, cars, vacations, and a beautiful wife and family. He also had interminable stress.
In his book Escape to God, Hohnberger tells the story of how he escaped from a life soaked with stress and devoid of God into a God-filled, unselfish life in a wilderness home. He escaped the trap of looking for blessings in the physical realm and found far more blessing in a life of less money and fewer things, discovering along the way that “everything in our lives is safe when we are committed to God, and nothing really is when we aren’t.”
Jim Hohnberger and his wife and children relocated to a house in the wilderness not far from Glacier National Park. Their lifestyle doesn’t sound easy: Splitting logs to fuel the wood stove, drawing water from a creek that froze over in the winter, no cellphone service, no landline service, no Internet, dependence on a generator and batteries for power.
But what an adventure—to trust and depend completely on God! The Hohnbergers found their path to independence from so many of the things we all believe we need in the modern world, cars, computers, smartphones, TVs, and never ending news. Most of us feel paralyzed when we lose power after a storm or when the Internet is down. Our connections to our families and friends depend on social media instead of sitting down tête-à-tête and engaging in a meaningful conversation.
Life in the 2020s, Hohnberger says, has become all about accumulating things that just clutter up our lies. Hohnberger believes that it isn’t wrong to have possessions, “but if things have usurped the throne in our hearts, they must be dethroned.” When we get rid of the things that we keep for false security, that we have allowed to replace or reduce the presence of God in our lives, we aren’t really depriving ourselves. He writes “We eliminate things in our lives that are good, even things that are better, so we can possess what is best!”
God is the Best, Hohnberger says. We surrender ourselves to God’s Best when we simplify our lives. Jim Hohnberger tells the story of how his life echoed Paul’s lament, “That which I would not, that do I do.” He relates the inner struggle of how entrenched he was in carnal things, and how, when he overcame those urges, he encountered unexpected blessings.
God gave us the freedom to choose, Hohnberger says, and we can find the freedom to choose Him. Simplifying our lives makes us aware of the presence of God. It isn’t necessary to be perfect. It’s just necessary to be surrendered. We escape to our refuge in God, Hohnberger says, by making a habit of surrendering our choices to Him. When we give up the right to manage ourselves, we are truly His.