Archive for October, 2010

With so much on my plate at the moment, why in the world am I taking time to blog?  Well, in part because I process best through writing things out.  But also in part because this thought struck me today and if I don’t write it  out it will either be lost like a half dozen other thoughts I’ve had in the past few weeks or it will get added to that hideous never-shortening list of “blogs to write” that I have – and have had for 2+ years now!

Besides, not having time to blog is part of what this entry is about!

I must confess up front that I have missed more than a few Sundays the past couple of months and so was not able to experience the full series that my Sunday School class was doing.  The series is a video series by Andy Stanley of North Point Community Church and it’s called Take It To The Limit. In short, it’s about margin.  Margin is basically what’s left after everything that is needed or necessary is done.  Like financial margin is what you have left at the end of the month when all bills and necessities are paid.  Time margin is not overloading your schedule so that when something important comes up (or a crisis), it can be dealt with.  It’s sort of like a buffer.  And it’s good stewardship.

Today was the last day and as a wrap-up they showed the introductory video because, apparently, they didn’t do it at the beginning (but I wasn’t there then so I wouldn’t know)…

In the intro, Andy took us on a whirlwind tour of the Bible, explaining how God had instructed us to set margin in our lives.  Even in the Law He gave to Israel when they had first come out of Egypt!  They weren’t supposed to live financially at their limit (100%) but were to live off a lower amount so that the margin could be applied to God and His work.  They weren’t supposed to work to their limit, but were to have a day of rest.  Even the land was to have rest at certain intervals!  And on he went…

And then a thought struck me.  Actually, it was a verse.  One he didn’t use at all.  But somewhere from the depths of my being the Holy Spirit dug up a verse I know and made it connect to what was being said.

“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

I’ve heard this verse explained that the Pharisees and teachers of the Law were the ones burdening the people with all their extra rules and that’s why Jesus said “come to Me.”  But looking at the immediate context, that doesn’t seem an obvious connection.  Not that it couldn’t be true, but I’m thinking it wasn’t just extra rules that were a burden – but culture itself pushing people to live at the limit, at the edge.  And that is a wholly unsustainable lifestyle – it’s wearisome!

If Andy is right (and I have no reason to doubt what he was saying today), then all along God has been asking us to step back, to go to Him and to live within boundaries He has set so that there is that buffer -that margin- in our lives.

Like Jesus saying, “Come to me.”

He wants us to take His yoke – as opposed to the one put on us by ourselves, or culture, or our drive to push limits.  Because His yoke is designed to fit us the way He made us.  Needing those margins and those Sabbaths.

Then I looked again at the verse.  “And you will find rest for your souls,” it says.

We tend to over-spiritualize the word “soul.”  Yes, the Greek word does include in its meaning a reference to that “thing” which is distinct from the physical body.  But another meaning in the Greek – and the primary meaning in the Hebrew – comes back to the basic idea of the “breath of life.”

So, to paraphrase, Jesus was saying, “take my yoke… and you will find room to breath.”

Because (and I know this from watching all those crime dramas) if someone sits on your chest or places something heavy on your chest and there is no room to breathe, you suffocate and die.  We need room to breathe.  We need margin.

I need margin.

Especially when it comes to my time, my emotions and my calling.  (I’ve already been working on the financial part.)

So now I need to go to Jesus.  Because I am weary and burdened (especially by all those “ought to”s).  I need to take His  yoke, follow His call, obey His commands… then I will have room to breath and will find rest!

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