Dr. Richard Swenson defines margin as “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, Swenson, Richard A., NavPress, 2004, p. 69)
Ministry happens in the margins. Relationships happen in the margins. Rest happens in the margins. Without margin, we are left with only pain, fatigue, hurry, and anxiety - the current disease of our modern society.
God calls us to rest - to create margin. He calls us to first rest.
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30 ESV).
In that margin and time of rest where we sit before an almighty, loving Father, we find our identity as children of God, uniquely created, ordained as a special envoy to this hurting world - saved and cherished by Jesus Christ who died for us on the Cross.
Once we are rested and see clearly our identity with a sense of purpose, equipped with the armor of God… then we are ready to work. We are ready to “go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt 28:19 ESV)
Too often we get this backwards. We work, even with great intention and high morality, until we have nothing left to give. And then we go looking for motivation or inspiration. Or worse, we just give up. We get what we can, can what we get, and sit on our can - we play the can game.
My challenge for you today is to believe! It is the only thing that God requires actually. Believe that if you sit before God, He will give you rest (margin) to then continue doing His will in this life so that you can finish well! Late in his life, Paul encouraged Timothy with his example of not giving up:
“For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2Tim 4:6-7 ESV).
Paul did not give up. I bet he understood the importance of margin!