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5 Ways to Make Space and Cultivate a Life of Margin

** I am HONORED to feature a guest blog from my very dear friend and co-pastor, Josh Balogh. For the past 20+ years, Josh has been a "friend who sticks closer than a brother" who lives every word he writes. I know you'll treasure him as I do! -- Chuck

Chronic busyness is brokenness, not a badge of honor. At face value, I think most of us would agree with this statement, though our actions of our lives tell another story. Margin in our lives is essential, but often it’s not until we feel burned out that we even notice our need.

Margin could be defined as the space between our load and our limits. Thankfully, we were never created to run at our limit forever. Our heavenly Father, in His infinite wisdom, gave us the gift of the Sabbath for our benefit. He rested on the seventh day of creation, not because He needed to, but because it was “good,” and He knew we would need to regularly experience that good part of His created order to thrive. We were created to work from rest.

Unfortunately, we live the opposite and pay the price for it. Though it doesn’t make human sense to cease from work, and “give up” 14% of our weekly potential work/earning/striving time, this is a “sacrifice” that actually serves us best and reminds of us of our need for Him. Margin or 'Sabbath' is really about surrender. Will we willingly discipline ourselves to slow down, cease striving, and truly rest? When we do, we reap the benefit of a healthier mind, body, and soul and maintain a sustainable productivity.

Jesus was often criticized for being too slow:

“You took 30 years before beginning your ministry?!”

“Your first move after being baptized and beginning ministry was to be led into the desert to be tempted for 40 days?!”

“You took so long to get to your friend Lazarus that he died before you got there?!"

The pace and patterns of Jesus’ life made little sense to the zealous religious leaders who went to great lengths to show everyone just how much they did for God. Yet there was Jesus, never in a hurry. Because Jesus chose margin, He was continually available to the marginalized. And that’s where He invites us to live with Him.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Jesus invites us to work “with” Him, not “for” Him; to learn “from” Him, and rest “in” Him. With that in mind, here are a few tips about creating “SPACE” to live with margin.

S – Slow Down

Let your heart catch up with your body. Set aside busyness, technology, and running to just “be.” “Be still, and Know that He is God.”

P – Pray

Start with listening to the Holy Spirit for the Father’s heart. What is He saying? Then, pray His heart back to Him, allowing Jesus to intercede and take those prayers back to the Father. It’s cool how the Trinity is actively involved in our prayer life! Don’t know where to start? Pray His words and promises back to Him!

A – Assess & Prioritize

Without constant guarding, the complexities of life will continue to creep in and overwhelm you. We must regularly lay each category of our life “out on the floor” and then pick back up the main priorities first, leaving margin to be interrupted and slowed down.

C – Confess

Admit where you’ve missed it, and commit to realign to His way. His way is always better, and for our best! “If you confess your sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all righteousness” (1 John 1:9). But here’s the key: we have to choose to see chronic busyness as sin, with no excuses. Only then can we truly realign.

E – Establish & Maintain Christlike Rhythms

Jesus spent a good portion of His time “getting away” to solitary places to pray. Before big ministry decisions He went to the Father. And after victories and heartbreaks, He found His celebration and comfort from the Father, too. Start and end in the secret place! We will experience a life led by His Spirit when we join John the Beloved, leaning back into chest of Jesus and attuning the rhythms of our lives to match the rhythms of His heart.

Love has a Pace, and it’s slow. “Love is patient.” God IS Love, and though He doesn’t have to, He walks with us. Notice, He doesn’t ask us to run and keep up with him. As John Maxwell has often stated, “Jesus always walked slowly through the crowds.” And we are invited to join Him.

Rest. Cease from work, and trust that He’s in control. The work that didn’t get done can wait. After all, it’ll never be “done” until we’re home with the One who said, “It is Finished." Receive the rest only He can give, and don’t be surprised if you find yourself in the crowds with Jesus with enough margin to look out for the marginalized.

Josh Balogh is a husband, father, and faithful friend. He longs to see people become lovers of Jesus, and for lovers of Jesus to walk in health and wholeness in their body, soul, spirit, and relationships. He is a self-described "jukebox junkie" who is a regular contributor with and on his personal blog. Josh is the Pastor of Missional Community Leaders at Overflow Church, in Valrico, FL.

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