Making Margin
Sunday 3 February 2019
We thank Pastor James Bahn for the good news this week. Continuing his theme of practical guidance for developing good habits of discipleship, Pastor James lays out one of the huge challenges that inserts itself between us and our Lord: making time and energy and space for the Lord to be in our lives.
It is also the case that a New Year might be a challenge for some of us. Life is not without suffering. Pastor Hung Nguyen shares the good news with us today to help us reduce suffering.
Luke 10:38-42
38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, He came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to Him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!" 41 "Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed – or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."
With humility, Pastor James empathises with us of the "busyness" of our lives, noting things that compete for our attention and our works leaving many with nothing left to give by the end of the day. He proposes the concept of margin, defined by Pastor Andy Stanley as "the amount available after what is necessary". Living without margin increases our stress and decreases our relational intimacy. We let "much serving" take us to our limits and yet somehow important things are missed.

A technique to gain margin is de-cluttering. Reflecting on what we are doing in our lives that take up our time, finances, energy and spirit may be surprising. We recall Pastor James encouraging us to replace bad habits with good habits. There may well be bad habits cluttering up our lives. "Much serving" for us might involve doing things for the wrong reasons, such as living up to other people's expectations. Jesus pointed out that Mary chose to do something that was more important than what Martha chose to do.

When we reflect upon what it is we are doing, we can then prioritise what is important and what is simply distraction. As children of the Lord, the Word, spoken through the Bible and whispered into our souls as we pray can help us put things into the right order. For example, doing things for Jesus is not as important as spending time with Jesus. Doing things for our family is not as important as spending time with our family. When we do this exercise, it becomes easier to de-clutter; but it is an exercise, a good habit because life changes and continues to throw things into our paths. Spending time with Jesus is a good habit that helps us winnow the bad habits.

Shall we give God the leftovers of us? Shall we give our family the leftovers of us? Being conscious of what we do and why will help us make these choices. Spending time with Jesus is a good habit that will help us do this. Everything in our lives is given by God, why not prioritise our time with God? It is the good part, which will not be taken from us.

Author: Stan Williams
Photography: Stan Williams