Have you ever noticed how hectic our lives are in today’s society? If our children go to school, they are up before 6 (and us along with them), race to get ready, race to prepare breakfast and lunch for them to take, race to get them either on the bus or dropped off at school. Even if we homeschool, we are up and get breakfast and get busy with schooling, then lunch, doing laundry while grading, getting the house cleaned after an afternoon of crafts and/or school projects, then supper and evening events.
Work hours are long, more and more companies are requiring mandatory overtime. Sometimes long drives to and from work/school. My husband teaches at a college and teaches evening classes and grades, what seems like, all the time. Our children have sports, church, ministry things they are involved with, and we are not even a big sports family. Plus our own church ministry.
We are on the go all the time.
What is margin anyway and why do we need it?
According to Webster’s it is:
- The part of a page at the edge left uncovered in writing or printing.
- Something allowed, or reserved, for that which can not be foreseen or known with certainty.
When I was in school, all my coursework was hand written on lined paper. We had to keep a certain amount of margin on both edges of the page. This allowed a few things. It gave us space if we had to write a word so we wouldn’t go off the page, and it gave space for the teacher to write their comments or corrections for us to address.
In other words, the margin was a bit of leeway on each page to give breathing room so we didn’t run off the page into oblivion.
How often do we allow margin in our lives today? Are we involved in so many things that, if anything goes wrong, our lives “run off the page”? Do we give ourselves some breathing space in case things get too hectic or do we max out the commitments we have in our days?
Years ago the woman who was involved in overseeing my discipling used to say, “For the believer, the good is the enemy of the best.” That seems, at first glance, to be an odd statement. But if we look a little closer, we see the great wisdom in it.
- a bible study is a good thing
- being involved in ministry is a good thing
- doing play dates for our children is a good thing
- mentoring others is a good thing
- counseling others is a good thing
- taking classes is a good thing
But here comes the point.
If any of these GOOD things are not what God is calling us to be doing, they actually become the ENEMY of the best things God has for us in our lives. If we are spending all of our time, effort and energy on these GOOD things, we do not have the opportunity to do the BEST things God has for us.
And it is all of these good things that generally cause us to live our lives WITHIN the margins of our lives. They sap our strength, our energy, our focus and have nothing left to give to the God ordained responsibilities in our lives.
Have you ever noticed that Jesus would take Himself away to a secluded place, away from the crowds and even His disciples? Jesus knew full well when His life had run into the margin and that He needed to be filled with the peace, rest, refreshment and power from the Father. He knew when He needed to allow His physical body to be given time be filled from on high. He knew the BEST the Father had called Him to and lived right there, not allowing the demands of others to thwart His following the Father’s best.
But so often we forget to take that intense time of fellowship with God.
We run on our own strength and fill up the margins of our lives so that we no longer have the time or opportunities to find those secluded places of refreshment and filling. We run out of gas in our engines with no time to fill up – we run our lives on fumes and wonder why we are living without the power of the Spirit.
Please know I am NOT saying that any of the things I’ve mentioned above are bad, or that we shouldn’t be doing them. What I AM saying is that ALL of the things in our lives need to be brought before the Lord. We need to be willing for Him to weed out all the things that are sucking life from us so that we have room for the life-giving things He has for us.
Also remember that this will change as our lives change.
When I was a young mom with numerous young children there were few things God opened up for me to be involved in. Just being home to raise and disciple those young children (and then with homeschooling as well) and minister to my husband took most of my energy and focus. Adding bible studies or other ministries would have caused me to live using up all the margin of my life. Now that my children are older, I have more leeway to be involved in things outside the home. As my life responsibilities change, so do the things God opens up for me.
But for each of us, no matter WHAT situation we are in, we need to be sure that we are taking EVERY event, task or ministry before the Lord to see if it is HIS best or just a good thing that keeping us from the calling of God for us. Don’t let your margin get filled up so that when trials come (and they will), you have no space in your life.
Let God design your schedule so that there is opportunity for those times of refreshing, so that you don’t fill up the margin with every day events that will sap you of joy, peace and power of the Lord.
(images courtesy of: Creative Commons License photo credit: dcosand/photobucket:by: twinmomy_bucket)
All Scripture quotations are taken from the NASB.