Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Margins in Life

I once heard about a book called Margin, maybe on a Focus on the Family broadcast. That was a long time ago, but I've never forgotten what the author said because it rang so true in my own life.

I looked up the book on Amazon.com this morning and found it here. The product description reads, "Are you worn out? This book offers healthy living in four areas we all struggle with-emotional energy, physical energy, time, and finances-and will prepare you to live a balanced life."

I have not read the book yet, so this is not a review, merely a commentary on how full our lives are. The society in which we live does not allow for much down time. For some reason, we believe that we must be busy all the time.

We pack our lives with so much that we are living on the edge most of the time, not allowing time or energy for unexpected things that come up. Inevitably, those unexpected events do happen and many times we are pushed over the edge. Often the really important things are pushed to the background as we desperately try to just survive. Surely this can't be the way God wants us to live as Believers.

Here is an excerpt from a devotional that I wrote several years ago:

"Opening up our homes to invite those in who need to see God’s love in action must be pleasing to our Lord. There is an abundance of hurting, lonely people, both in the world and in our church, who are starving for fellowship and companionship. It does not matter to them if your furniture has been dusted or not, or whether you serve a gourmet dinner with all the proper utensils. What matters is that you took the initiative and cared enough to invite them into your home and into your life.

I have been guilty of neglecting to practice hospitality, and the reasons for this are probably the same ones that keep you from practicing it as well. We live in a very busy culture, and we sometimes measure our success by the number of appointments that we have on our calendars. We run from here to there, and by the time we get home, we are exhausted. So then the thought of having to clean the house “good enough for company” and plan a nice meal just seems way beyond my energy level.

When I hear people talk about the way life was in years gone by, it makes me long for a slower, more peaceful way of life. A time when people stopped by friends’ and families’ homes for a visit and a meal, and they knew that they were truly welcome. A time when people sat around a dinner table or a fireplace or on a front porch and talked, sharing problems, telling stories, dreaming dreams, being themselves and being accepted by their friends - feeling a part of a community - part of a family - connected.

My prayer for all of us this week is that our Father will give us a friendly, hospitable heart. That he will help us to set our priorities straight so that we have the time and energy to minister His love in a way that would be pleasing to Him. That He will open our eyes to the hurting and lonely who desperately need our friendship, and that He will flood us anew with His love so that we will not be afraid to open our homes and our hearts and share ourselves with each other."

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