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Monday, June 24, 2013

Out of Breath

Today I'm reading Psalm 131:1-2

My heart is not proud, Lord,
    my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
    or things too wonderful for me.
But I have calmed and quieted myself,
    I am like a weaned child with its mother;
    like a weaned child I am content.

A book that has always challenged me is "Margin" by Dr. Richard Swenson, because he so accurately describes one of the main problems of our culture - our lack of margin. We need space between things - that's what margin is. Space. Instead, we are all crammed together. 

“THE CONDITIONS OF modern-day living devour margin. If you are homeless, we send you to a shelter. If you are penniless, we offer you food stamps. If you are breathless, we connect you to oxygen. But if you are marginless, we give you yet one more thing to do. Marginless is being thirty minutes late to the doctor's office because you were twenty minutes late getting out of the hairdressers because you were ten minutes late dropping the children off at school because your car ran out of gas two blocks from the gas station - and you forgot your purse. 

Margin, on the other hand, is having breath left at the top of the stairs, money left at the end of the month, and sanity left after adolescence. 

Marginless is the baby crying and the phone ringing at the same time; margin is Grandma taking the baby for the afternoon. 

Marginless is being asked to carry a load five pounds heavier than you can lift; margin is a friend to carry half the burden. 

Marginless is not having time to finish the book you’re reading on stress; margin is having the time to read it twice. 

Marginless is fatigue; margin is energy. 

Marginless is red ink; margin is black ink. 

Marginless is hurry; margin is calm. 

Marginless is anxiety; margin is security. 

Marginless is culture; margin is counterculture. 

Marginless is the disease of the new millennium; margin is its cure.” 

”Margin is the space between our load and our limits. It is the amount allowed beyond that which is needed. It is something held in reserve for contingencies or unanticipated situations. Margin is the gap between rest and exhaustion, the space between breathing freely and suffocating. Margin is the opposite of overload. If we are overloaded we have no margin.”

” We must have some room to breathe,” he writes. “We need freedom to think and permission to heal. Our relationships are being starved to death by velocity. No one has the time to listen, let alone love. Our children lay wounded on the ground, run over by our high-speed good intentions. Is God now pro-exhaustion?”  

Swenson asks if this is the kind of lifestyle Jesus really wants us to live? We tend to cram 120% of life into 100%, when we should be living at 80% capacity so we have room for people, and for the Lord in fact, to interrupt us. After all, Jesus was active, but He seemed to be interrupted a lot, and He made those interruptions into ministry opportunities.

Do you have space this week? What's the level of margin in your life? Isn't your lack of margin one of the main causes of stress and anxiety in your life? What is one thing you can do about it this week?


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