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Master the Margins

Photo by Estée Janssens on Unsplash

When it comes to being on mission we often miss it because we are so busy. We have little to no time to simply be with people. There is no opportunity to listen, pray, or to just look around. Every day we rush to the next place, to the next appointment, to the next meeting, or the next event. How can we possibly be on mission if there is not time or space to simply, “be”?

I am often struck by looking at Jesus’ life and seeing that he was a master of the “margin.” Many stories in the Gospels start with, “As Jesus was walking…” There was a pace of life that Jesus practiced where he had margin to converse and to be present with the people around him.

You are reading this thinking, “Yes, yes, yes, but that was the first century. There were no cars, obviously he was walking. There were no travel sports. There were no school events. People didn’t have to commute to work. The list could go on and on. How can you possibly draw any parallel to Jesus’ pace of life and ours? WE ARE BUSY!”

I hear you. I feel the crippling weight of busy-ness too. My family sits down for dinner together one or two nights a week, if we’re lucky. It feels as though we are in perpetual motion. My wife and I joke and make light of the situation by occasionally introducing ourselves to one another, “Hello, I’m your husband, and you are?”

Sad? Yes. Normal? Yes.

The modern life is life at break-neck speed.

Here is the dirty little secret though: there is nobody to blame but ourselves. We choose what we get involved with. We choose what our kids will participate in. We choose where we will spend out time. We choose.

To truly be on mission we must learn to master the margins. Step one is making sure to have some margin. This can be hard. It means saying “no” to good things. For example, last year I volunteered in our local school’s concession stand for sporting events. I loved doing it. I enjoyed the camaraderie with the other volunteers. I felt useful. This year, I took a second, part time job at another church. I just added twenty hours into my schedule, minimum. Something had to give so that I could have some margin in my life to be present with people. Therefore, I said “no” to volunteering with the concessions team again.

What do you need to say “no” to so that you can have margin?

Step two is that our margins need to spent with people and not just taking naps and chilling on our couch. It’s healthy and good to take a break and recharge. We need Sabbath rest. However, that rest ought to compel us to action and engagement. There will be times that we must step out into our margin times even when we are a bit tired. We will have to trust that the Holy Spirit will provide us the energy and power we need to do so.

What do you need to “yes” to so that you are engaging in the margin?

Margin is necessary. Jesus was a master of the margin. We too can make decisions about margin. Mission takes place in the margin. Choose to create margin and then step into it.

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