Jesus said in John 16:33: “These things I have spoken to you that in me you might have peace. In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” Following Jesus brings peace into one’s life even in the midst of great difficulties. His peace passes all understanding. It is real and it is really wonderful!
However, I don’t see lives saturated in God’s peace when I observe normal Christian life today (including my own). I see overwhelming stress. I see anxiety. I see financial pressure. I see maxed-out schedules. I see people who are tired and weary. Jesus said in John 10:10 – I have come that they might life, and have it more abundantly. Does this match up with that bold claim?
God desires that we might have life, and He desires it to be full. He wants us to be overflowing, but not overloaded. He wants us to have meaningful, fulfilling, lives filled with His Presence – life itself. However, you and I tend to fill our lives with more than we can actually handle or accomplish. We fill our lives up until there is no margin.
Margin is essential for abundant life. Margin is the space between our limits and our capacity. It’s breathing room. It’s that reserve for the unanticipated. It’s that place for the surprises. It’s that place between the “abundant life” and deadly lives.
Margin is allowing extra time to get to an appointment. It is having money left at the end of the month after you pay your bills. It’s coming to the end of your day and having the emotional energy to play with your kids. It’s having enough time in your schedule to be able to get a good night’s rest. It is that place where God often meets us.
But too often, because of the choices we make, the debts we take on, our lack of trust in God, our desire to succumb to cultural norms, and allowing technology to control us, our lives end up with too much. We have too much to do, too much debt, and too much demand for our time and limited resources. We end up in chaos, being overwhelmed, emotionally exhausted, physically debilitated, and SPIRITUALLY dead.
Is this the way God wants us to live our lives? Is this the witness He wants us to have to our unbelieving friends? It’s time for us to take a serious look in the mirror and examine ourselves and the priorities we have for our lives. We are not only wounding the cause of Jesus; we are hurting ourselves!
Richard Swenson, in his book, Margin, writes: “Overload is not having time to finish the book you are reading on stress. Margin is having time to read it twice. Overload is fatigue. Margin is energy. Overload is red ink. Margin is black ink. Overload is hurry. Margin is calm. Overload is anxiety. Margin is security.” Psalm 90:12 says: “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” The wise person has margin in an overloaded and stressed out world. What would it look like to create margin in your life?