When our three children were young, we learned it was nearly impossible to meet the demands and desires typical of a young active family. Options to participate in more events and sports were endless. The call of consumerism demanded we follow the culture to acquire the next coolest whatever. We certainly didn’t want to be “uncool”. The more things we engaged in, the less time we had to keep the house up, keep the cars clean, or to spend time at home together. As a family, we had to decide to create margins in our lives. Just as pages in a book have margins of white space so the eyes are not exhausted, we needed margins in our families life with no activities so we could prioritize and stay sane.
Margins in people’s lives is the concept of leaving open space for rest, restoration and refreshment. For many families, free space just isn’t available. When this happens, fatigue and even exhaustion begin to set in. Decisions must be made to create margins in our lives or sickness (physically, psychologically and spiritually) begins to hamper us. For many today, spiritual disciplines and commitments are what are compromised in order to find the peace and rest needed. The problem is that surrendering our spiritual well being is folly and Proverbs 9:13-18 says that folly brings death to our souls.
Some parents never consider a child’s desire to skip school, homework or practice. However, opting out of spiritual gatherings and disciplines generally isn't given much thought. Teachers, bosses and coaches carry weight that spiritual leaders don’t seem to have in our lives. When a coach calls because a practice is missed, we are grateful that he or she cares. When a spiritual leader challenges us towards faithfulness in Christ we cringe and cry control or legalism.
“We are never free from the battle between our flesh and the Spirit” (Galatians 5:17 NLT). Our culture screams for us to elevate ourselves while the Scriptures nudge us to a better way to live through service, sacrifice and surrender (2 Timothy 2:1-10). We are encouraged to seek God first, love others as ourselves and to be on mission to see Christ formed in others (DNA).
We must gather together as families (spiritual and biological) and talk openly about how hard it is to fight against our cultures raging demands. Different decisions must be considered and made in order to find the peace, unity and maturity in our most holy faith.
The following are a few thoughts to work through in our spiritual and biological families in order to nudge people to a more mature walk in our life with Christ as family.
When we hoard our energy instead of expending it to others, our actions are stating that selfishness is acceptable.
3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. 5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Philippians 2:3-7 NASB (also read the larger context of Philippians 2:1-17).
When we value saving our money more than we value generous giving, we teach others that our security is in our own abilities and that God’s principles are not to be trusted.
5 …but I want it to be a willing gift, not one given grudgingly. 6 Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. 7 You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” 8 And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. 9 As the Scriptures say, “They share freely and give generously to the poor. Their good deeds will be remembered forever.” 2 Corinthians 9:5b-9 NLT
When we creatively adjust our schedules to attend our children’s practices, games and events but opt to rest instead of being church with others, we are teaching others that the gods of this world are more worthy of our time and sacrifice than the King of Universe.
30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? 31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. 34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today. Matthew 6:30-34 NLT
When we can make it home after a busy Saturday to catch the game on TV but choose to linger at the park instead of spending time in the Word, we are teaching others that what delights our flesh is of higher value than what delights God.
16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 NASB
When we instruct our children that they should not whimsically miss school or work but then complain we are too tired to be the church with others, we are teaching that spiritual disciplines are not worth our effort. We are teaching spiritual laziness!
“6 In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following. 7 But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; 8 for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. 9 It is a trustworthy statement deserving full acceptance. 10 For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers. 11 Prescribe and teach these things.”
1 Timothy 4:6-11 NASB
Let’s work toward creating margins of refreshment in our lives so we can live out what is truly most important and demonstrating by our choices that we live for Jesus.
I would love hear your thoughts on these vital issues of our day.