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Margin: I Don't Have Enough Time

Ecclesiastes 3:1-12

I constantly say I want to make some time to… How silly of me! I can’t make time. God made time when he set up the world with days and nights, months and years, finite in the stream of His eternity. My personal supply of time is totally in His hands. How I use it is in my hands.

And so we embark on filling time. We shake the cup, stamp it down, and try to squeeze in a little more. We run the kids everywhere for everything. We multi-task and yell at the microwave when 30 seconds takes so long.

That’s not what God gave the rhythm of time for. He designed cycles and seasons to give us some order, a time for everything… not time for everything.

Take a moment to mark the season you are in, then look at your daily agenda and sort out the time blocks. Are there activities that do not suit your current season? Are the activities missing that do? How would God have you spend this week’s finite portion of time?

Ecclesiastes 3:11 says God has planted eternity in the human heart. Even while it is healthy to realize that time is a finite element in our life, God has still given us a glimpse of eternity, timelessness. The Spiritual Disciplines of Meditation, Study and Submission are ways we stop and look through God’s eternal eyes. Practicing these disciplines can be sampling eternity and a way to bring balance to our time constraints.

Meditation: Sink down into the light and life of Christ. Meditation allows Christ of build a sanctuary in our heart, “I stand at the door and knock” Rev. 3:20. This inward fellowship transforms our inward person, then when we’re squeezed, Christ likeness comes out. We’ve built a margin that changes who we are under stress. How do I do it? Just take a small portion of Scripture and center on internalizing and personalizing it.

Study: Even regular church goers can be driven about by time’s demands. The Discipline of Study focuses on God’s will and to know His mind. Jesus promises “You will know the truth and the truth will make you free.” John 8:32 yet so many of us are still bound by the whispers of the world. Our mind takes on the form of what we pay attention to. Studying God’s Word transforms the mind and shapes our desires. Meditation is devotional- study is analytical. It pays attention to detail and asks questions. It uses repetition, concentration, reflection, and humility.

Submission: God’s Word pushes us to the wall - to not only know it but to do it! We hear God’s Word and put it into practice, for our own good and for the good of others. In that process we have not only submitted our will to God, but we find that in serving Him we submit to the needs of others. Submission is the tool the Holy Spirit uses to turn our self-centered whims into servanthood. He frees us from the bondage of self-preservation, free to serve as Jesus did. Your first step of submission may be to invite God to rearrange your time.

“You have your hands full!” is a phrase strangers often direct my way. I choose to see this from a positive angle: “Yes, I have my hands full of blessings.”

Sometimes I forget the gift that each day is. I’m lost in the tasks (and fires) that go with the role of this present season. God has given us seasons, days, and moments for our spiritual growth. Especially on days that frazzle my parenting skills, I need the firm rock of God and his promises rooted in my heart.

Meditating is one way to refocus on God’s horizon. How do your mornings begin? With refreshment, or the desire to hit snooze for 25 more minutes? With joy, or sagging will power to ‘get things done’? Some mornings, the brain fog takes a while to clear. It doesn’t matter what the season is, my mind must be renewed each morning by God’s word. Whatever my first 30 minutes dwell on, it seeps into the day.

This quote spurred me to rearrange our family’s morning routine: “The greatest obstruction to our joy in God is not a lack of time. When we have lost sight of an eternal perspective in our daily lives, the atonement of Jesus becomes neither vital nor precious to us. A greater gift than time is the gift of forgiveness for our sins so that we can behold our holy God.” (Gloria Furman) He raises our hearts from the grave, and gives us eternal life, with our eyes fixed on Jesus!

Here’s a dorm party killer, “Well, I have to go study.” The word may carry baggage for you that ties into your experiences with the educational system. When the word Bible is added to study you may have flash backs of another kind.

My experience of study as a spiritual discipline is more connected with the atmosphere David describes, “O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water.” Psalm 63:1(NLT)

Studying the details, using concentration, making connections brings me an overwhelming experience of God’s voice speaking in the text. I find water for my thirsty soul. He drives home the point for His purpose for my life. I arrive at a place of humility and time stands still. In that timeless place connected with God, I understand the times I live in.

What Bible study tools have you collected and learned to use? A Bible Dictionary will help you identify people and events and cultural understanding. The notes in a study Bible will help you with cross references. A commentary will pull together themes. Use Rick Warren’s Bible Study Methods to explore different styles of Study and find the one that brings you into God’s presence.

Matthew 12:46-50

This story from Jesus’ ministry sometimes reads a little harsh. I think of poor Mary trying to squeeze in a minute with her son. But Jesus is making a very important point about our time in His Kingdom. It’s all about doing the will of our Heavenly Father. Certainly Mary knew all about that. In my mind, Jesus and Mary make eye contact, Mary nods and quietly leaves Jesus to it.

My time choices are flavored by my priorities and what I see as needs. Obviously I know best! I yearn for a little me time, but if I’m honest, most of my time is driven by my choices. It is me time. How different would my day look if I submitted my choices to God’s will? It takes time to go the extra mile, to visit my sick friend, to sit and wait with my child.

For us type A’s the key is to submit our full throttle habit to God’s slow mode. Here’s a discipline challenge - go and sit next to a family member, bring a cup of coffee to a coworker and listen, or pick the long line at the store and notice the people around you.