Margin: I Just Can't Take It Any More!
Read: Mark 6:30-32
Running on Empty
Mark 6:7–13, 30-32
I once had a car with a broken gas gauge. It worked fine until you got to the last quarter tank and then got stuck. You’d think that just meant I’d fill it before it got to that point.
Jesus knows something about the human failure rate for running on fumes. First you have to fill the tank before you drive, then you have to refill after you’ve taken a long run. We see him using and training his disciples in the rhythm of rest for work, and rest from work. Our desperate cries of exhaustion show that this is a lesson we need.
A study of children revealed the importance of this rhythm. Children held too close, strictly in retreat within safe bounds do not learn to explore, experiment or live with courage. Children who are given only wide range and constant adventure lose trust in those who should give them security. They lose the ability to develop balance and wholesome relationships.
Do you see the spiritual analogy? Our Heavenly Father invites us to rest, a close personal relationship that nurtures us, then sends us out to explore and have a Kingdom impact on the world – Retreat then Adventure. He also calls us back to debrief, refresh and reorient on Him – Adventure then Retreat.
Which position is your pendulum in? In Retreat, soaking in His grace and transformed by His power… On Adventure, riding the wave He has created bringing His Kingdom into many lives… In Retreat, retuning to His voice, restoring balance.
The Fruit of the Spirit is an essential ingredient in the Retreat – Adventure – Retreat pendulum. When we begin in retreat or rest with God we experience the kindness and goodness of God. We see how far patience and self-control really goes. When He sends us off into Adventure for His Kingdom the Holy Spirit brings fruit to bud in our lives that can nurture others. We speak about love and peace and we demonstrate joy. Back in Retreat, we rest and refuel in His faithfulness and the Holy Spirit grows gentleness.
This week’s Spiritual Disciplines are deeply embedded throughout the Retreat, Adventure, Retreat cycle.
Prayer - We usually pray or ask for God to change something. But to pray is to change. It is the central way God uses to transform us. Be wary if you are unwilling to pray, it may indicate an unwillingness to change. The very change that happens in retreat, is crucial to adventure, and refreshes again in retreat.
Guidance – This is a corporate discipline. Yes, the Holy Spirit guides individuals, but pervasively Scriptures speak of God’s guidance to the community. Acts 4:32,33 shows a community of believers guided and acting in unity of heart, an Adventure birthed in Retreat.
Celebration – Christianity starts in Luke 2 with angels declaring good news of great joy to all people. Augustine of Hippo said, “Christians should be an Alleluia from head to toe.” Celebration brings joy to life demonstrating the reality of God’s Kingdom. Joy builds endurance needed for our return to Adventure.
As a Christian, prayer is an essential part of our daily lives. Prayer is our intimate dialogue with our Father. It is truly amazing to know that we have a direct line to the Creator of the universe and that He hears our heart and responds.
There is power in prayer. In the cycle of Retreat, Adventure, Retreat, our conversations with God help us in each stage of the cycle.
In Retreat, God is showering us with His grace and preparing us for His adventure. Through prayer, God changes our heart, mind, and attitude. God uses our prayers to mold us into a “servant after His own heart”. He is readying us for His adventure and is excited for us to come alongside Him.
In Adventure, God uses prayer to direct us and give us encouragement. To further God’s kingdom is an amazing adventure but it is not always easy – we need help. But by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, we can present our requests to God. God who loves us enough to send His Son for us, will give us what we need to finish the adventure.
Finally, back in Retreat, spending time in prayer will give us peace. Jesus tells us that He is willing to take our burden and will bring us rest for our souls.
Are you in Retreat… Adventure… or Retreat? Pray that God change your heart, give you strength and encouragement, and finally pray for His immeasurable peace.
Spend time with God in II Corinthians Chapter 4, in particular v. 5-18.
We are one in Christ – sharing in His death to sin and sharing each and every day in His resurrection to new life. Free from the law. Free to put on His righteousness. Free to walk in the path He has established for us — together. His light shines in the darkness. We see it and together we proclaim this eternal, life giving, Gospel -- Good News to everyone – near and far.
While we walk this earth, Christ, our unfathomable treasure, is housed in us – fragile, breakable, jars of clay. Our limitations say “I can’t take it any more!”
Hear the good news. We are bound together in Christ. With guidance and encouragement, we are afflicted but not crushed, perplexed but not driven to despair, persecuted but not forsaken, struck down but not destroyed. Christ’s victory is the truth we tell each other. The Spirit shows us that light, momentary afflictions, are transient. The life giving grace of God in Christ Jesus is unseen, eternal!
Heavenly Father, we humbly thank you for the guidance you provide each day of our lives. We pray for that guidance on Trinity’s days, too. May the righteousness of your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, abide in us that we may joyfully devote our lives to You, secure in His arms. In Jesus name. Amen.
Our world has been filled with suffering and terror. No matter how “spiritual” we become the broken nature of the world will not be changed. But worship of our creating saving God spills out into heartfelt celebration of his greatness and goodness to us even in the midst of suffering and terror. Celebration carries joy out of the Sunday worship box and becomes an antidote for despair in day-to-day living.
Exodus 15:1-18 can be read in a steady drone, a solemn Psalm of corporate thanksgiving, until you get to verse 20&21. Miriam breaks out the tambourines and starts dancing with one refrain becoming a group cheer. Maybe we should have read those first 18 verses differently!
The discipline of Celebration asks me to live my life differently. With a daily focus on the miracle of life, faith and salvation that God continually delivers, my steps gain a lilt. Margin opens up and I have words that carry blessings of praise for everyone and all things even in the strain I’m facing today. I see my granddaughter skip from point A to point B.
The all senses enjoyment of God’s gifts is a declaration of His generosity and a commitment to trust all that He does. Throw a party for someone who is sitting in fear right now. Remember, Israel had escaped the Egyptian army, but they still had a dessert to cross. Sing and dance!
What can you carry in your pocket this week to remind you of the God’s lavish love? When your day starts crashing, let it remind you to dance in the Margin.
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