The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. Proverbs 16:9
Recently, I was reminded of the importance of margin in our lives. We live in a culture that is counter-intuitive to margin. Busyness is applauded and awarded. Packing as many things as possible into our days implies worth. The value of margin goes beyond just our time, but essentially applies to every area of our lives.
Margin: a spare amount or measure or degree allowed or given for contingencies or special situations[i]
To be honest this is an area that I have done poorly with. Case in point: I had a women’s retreat planning meeting at 7 pm and there I was in my kitchen throwing together a birthday dinner, knowing I still had to type up my notes for the meeting and be out the door by 6:35. I somehow made it on time but there was no margin or breathing room.
I have been one to pack my schedule full and beyond full. The busier the better. I bought the lie that busy equals worth. Have you?
Without margins we leave little room for God to intervene in our days to direct our steps. Rather than being led by the Spirit through our days, we plan our days and charge headlong into getting things done. But what movement of God around us do we miss because we have to get our to-do list done?
Without a margin in our schedule how do we take time to pray with a neighbor who just got bad news from the doctor or stop to help an elderly neighbor carry in her groceries?
Without a financial margin (if we spend every cent we make, or more) how do we have funds to buy food to make a meal for a friend whose child ends up in the hospital unexpectedly? Without a financial margin how open are we to God making some last minute reallocations to serve His purposes?
Five years ago, we had a couple cover the complete cost for my husband and I to go to my husband’s daughter’s funeral on the west coast. It was not a small gift. We were amazingly blessed by the margin this couple had financially to enable us to go without the added financial burden to us.
How about margin in our time with God? Relationship can’t be rushed, it takes time. If we were trying to get to know a new person at church or a new neighbor we would not likely set a timer and watch the clock allocating 30 or 45 minutes to visit and then shoot out the door. That would sound silly but how often do we do just that in our time with God? Without margin in our spiritual walk – how in tune are we to hear God’s voice? How sensitive are we to the promptings of the Holy Spirit? Is there even any margin for God to speak into our hearts – on His schedule rather than on ours? I’m becoming more and more convicted even as I write this Victory Call.
What health benefits can you think of from having margin in your life?
One of my favorite places in my home is the screen porch in the back that overlooks the woods on our property. In the summer, the fire flies fascinate me and I love to watch storms come in from the west. It is a place where I can sit and be still sometimes for only a few minutes, sometimes for more extended times. Margin. I don’t schedule things to do, I just sit and enjoy my time alone with God and His creation.
How about you? What areas of your life need margin? How can you be more in tune with the whispers of God? Is there room in your life for God to move and direct your path or change the direction of your path mid-step?
If this is an area you feel a need to consider, as I do, let’s begin by praying and asking God to open our eyes, ears and hearts to make more room for His plans and purposes every single day. To teach us where and how He wants us to live with margin.
Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation… Psalm 25:4-5
Written by Diane Hunt: Diane Hunt serves on the board of America’s Keswick and is the Executive Director & CEO of Changed Choices, a Christian non-profit in North Carolina. She is also a biblical counselor and women’s event speaker. For more information about having Diane speak at your next event please contact her at email@example.com.
Think About This: “God’s grace frees you from having to deny your weaknesses.” ―