Life in the Margins
We don’t need to squeeze more into tiny margins. We need wider margins.
The Bible I’m currently using (a print version) has tiny margins. That doesn’t stop me from cramming them full of observations, exclamations and prayers though. I just wish the publisher would have added another 50 or 100 pages and used wider margins. I would’ve paid more money for that.*
As I write in these tiny margins, I often think about it being an illustration for life. We fill our days with as much “productivity” as possible, then squeeze reading, thinking, walking, writing, exploring and praying into the margins, as if none of those things are productive.
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We have to work, of course, and that takes up a portion of our day. And we have other responsibilities, for sure. But we don’t have to cram our margins full by chasing another new business idea, committing to another weekly meeting or taking on another project.
As a people-pleaser, I’ve really struggled with saying no to weekly meetings. But I’d rather disappoint someone than feel overwhelmed. My life, like yours probably, is already stressful enough. When yet another commitment comes along – especially one that feels like someone is imposing it on me – I can get pretty cranky. I’ve learned that I react that way because my margins are too small. Well, that, and my sanctification isn’t complete.
We don’t need to squeeze more into tiny margins. We need wider margins. The good news is, we control the margin size.
Stop pursuing every good (or even great) idea. If you can’t turn off your brain, pass your ideas along to someone else who can run with them. Or jot them in a “someday” notebook. Or just recognize them as a distraction and move on.
Can we talk about distractions for a minute? I believe distractions are a spiritual warfare issue. How so? I can’t say it any better than this essay by Dr. Mitchell Kalpakgian that delves into this topic, using “The Screwtape Letters” by C. S. Lewis:
“The business of devils, explains Screwtape, involves diverting human minds from the present and the eternal by leading them into the past and the future.
“He explains that God intends his children to contemplate eternity—death, heaven, and hell—and to dwell in the immediacy of the present moment—‘either meditating on their eternal union with, or separation from, Himself, or else obeying the present voice of conscience, bearing the present cross, receiving the present grace, giving thanks for the present pleasure.’”
Oswald Chambers wrote the following about Christians who are engaged in endless activities, then have no time to soak in the truths of God.
“If you waste your time in overactivity, instead of being immersed in the great fundamental truths of God’s redemption, then you will snap when the stress and strain do come,” Chambers wrote. “But if this time of soaking before God is being spent in getting rooted and grounded in Him, which may appear to be impractical, then you will remain true to Him whatever happens.”
Dwelling in the immediacy of the present moment is difficult when we have no margin. And the only way to soak in the truths of God is to create the time and space to do so.
* I realize you can buy Bibles with wide margins, but right now, I’m working my way through a Bible reading plan with 14 guys and we’re all using the same Bible.
Here are some tidbits you might find interesting this week:
Looking for a little background music while you study or relax? Check out this three-hour worship music instrumental audio.
I told my small group this week that I want the old hymn Victory in Jesus sung at my funeral someday. I love its message. That’s also why I love this devotional: More Than Conquerors by Elizabeth Reynolds Turnage. Subscribe to her newsletter while you are there.
If you have Amazon Prime, did you know you have access to free unlimited online photo storage through the Amazon Photos app? I switched to it from Dropbox recently to backup photos on my phone and I love it. They do charge a monthly fee for videos.
While we are being all techy, check out the Brave browser. It claims it doesn’t track your every online movement. When you visit a site, you can see it killing the various trackers. The browser is far faster on some sites as a result.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the mystery of the faith. So when I saw this article appear in my feed, I dove into it: A Gentle Fury: Finding Freedom in a Mysterious God by Sarah E. Westfall.
When Lee isn’t writing essays, devotional books, or Christmas novellas, he is a freelance editor, as well as a freelance journalist who has written hundreds of articles for various newspapers and magazines. He’s also a fan of NASCAR, baseball, tennis, books, movies and coffee shops.
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