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Life Without Margin

Genesis 3:1-19
We belong to God. Adam and Eve had to understand that in a very concrete way. Genesis 2 shows us a very hands-on picture of God forming Adam and constructing Eve. His garden was there home. Their success and happiness came from the provision of His hand.

A very relational scenes comes in Genesis 3:8. God has come to the garden when the cool evening breezes were blowing. Time to take a load off and sit on that old fashioned porch where relationships happen. Was this God’s habit? I like to imagine the conversations Adam and Eve had with God there in the evening’s breeze. But wait, on this evening in 3:8 something is different. What in the world are Adam and Eve doing hiding in the bushes?

They’ve tried relying on their own understanding and are now stressed out and discovering that they are underfunded, but most tragically, their understanding of relationship with God has evaporated. The rest of the Bible is telling us how God wants to repair that relationship.

The relational Law of the Lego says each standard block has 6 bumps on top, 6 sockets on the bottom. Those define the limits of the block’s ability to connect or relate to other blocks. You, like a Lego, have certain limits on how you connect or relate to people. Your mind may be wandering off to consider how many relationships are hooked up to your block and how you can trim down the count, but Jesus tells us true Margin, the space between our load and our limits can only be created by relationship with God. (John 15:5) It’s not about how many blocks are hooked up to us, but rather if we are hooked up to God.

Take a look at your Lego life and identify where you are connected to God.

Here are 3 Spiritual Disciplines that can give you some connection with God. If you want to have Margin in your life to be useful to God, the place to start is spending time with Him. Practice one of these disciplines regularly to increase your margin for relationships.

Solitude
Shut the door, disconnect, not for alone time for rest, relaxation and your own enjoyment. In solitude, come into the presence of God. Acknowledge that He is the vine and you are the branch and abide with Him. How much alone time with God will nurture your margin? You’ll just have to figure that out with practice.

Confession
God’s first line in the story of Genesis 3 is odd, “Where are you?” Certainly He knew Adam and Eve were in those rattling bushes. He opens the door for their confession, for their spoken desire for a repaired relationship. Instead they offer blame and excuses. Put yourself at the foot of the cross and speak the truth to God regularly, because it is there at the cross that God offers to heal and transform you. How could you ever be useful without that?

Worship
Worship is our response to the God who seeks us even when we’re hiding in the bushes, who gives us His all, even His Son, to bring us back to the porch of relationship. If worship is our broadcasted statement of His Lordship, then worship must have a priority in our lives or it is not sincere. When the pace of life squeezes out your time for worship, you are without Margin. Make worship a priority and see what God does with your heart the rest of the week.

Solitude
OK, I’m an introvert. Being alone is comfortable, in fact there are times when I feel crowded by people. But what we’re talking about here is being alone with God! I still need the discipline of seeking God’s presence. I have to be intentional about seeking quality time with friends and that’s what the Discipline of Solitude provides for me, quality time with God.

I tune out other distractions and tune in to Him. When I review God’s characteristics and His action in my life, suddenly all the hubbub of living falls into place. I see his perspective and path. My to do list gets sifted and makes eternal sense.

When my habit of aloneness tends towards feeling lonely, may whimper with self-pity. But my practice of Solitude assures me that I am never alone. God whispers “I Am”.

Today, find a small space of time and place to do as God directs - “Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God,
above politics, above everything.”
Psalm 46:10 MSG

Confession
I’ve rattled through confession in many church services. I’ve known the truth of the doctrine of original sin. I’ve praised God for sending Jesus to solve our problem of sin.

Did you catch that… “our problem”?

The Discipline of Confession turns the universal our sin into my sin. Practicing this discipline is where I get honest with God and I find that it invades my life and makes me honest with others. The mask of my hurried life slips off.

My experience with confession was moved to a whole new level when I was working through a 12 Step study with a group. When we got to the assignment of taking a Moral Inventory I froze in my tracks. “We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.” Well, that reads pretty nice, but when I sat down and started listing events, good and bad, and searched out the effects and saw the damage, admitted my part – I was in new territory – way beyond the rote “I a poor miserable sinner confess…” Sin was obviously my problem.

That’s why the discipline of Confession must be practiced with someone. We need to be told why that moral inventory can be made fearlessly, because God loves and forgives, in that order.

Stop, take time to be honest with God. Listen to Him say, “Come, let’s talk this over! Says the Lord; no matter how deep the stain of your sins, I can take it out and make you as clean as freshly fallen snow.” Isaiah 1:18 TLB

Then find someone mature in Christ to share your confession with.

Worship
I can think of so many other things to do on Sunday (or Saturday evening!). I even get a little perplexed when my busy weekend schedule bumps into a business door that is locked to give the staff a Sabbath. Maybe it’s because I’ve lost the Discipline part of Worship.

At Sinai, God told Moses to make sure the people prepared for their encounter with Him at the mountain. Washing was involved, clothes were changed. That reminds me of my childhood Saturday night/Sunday morning family rituals. The worship begins with preparation.

My hurried life needs to be stilled, I need to be prepared to enter into God’s presence with my faith community. I remember my Father reading through the lessons for the next day’s service. I remember gathering with a small group early Sunday morning to pray for those attending and for those teaching God’s Word. What preparation practices would build you anticipation and joy in worship?

Beyond these habits, I want to think of my Monday through Friday as preparation for next week’s worship. How will all my encounters, all my decisions show a worshipful alignment that God is God? Ask the Holy Spirit to show you how to prep this week.