If your life was a piece of paper, how big would your margins be? Would you have one inch margins all around your paper? Inch and a half? Two inches? Or is your life so overflowing with stuff that you HAVE to do that you are not even sure you have any margins. If you do, then maybe they are like 1/100 of an inch.
As I have learned the hard way in my own life, some of us have gotten so used to living life without margins, that we do not even know what they are. While we might like the idea of having more time and space in our life, we have no idea how to begin to function in a world where that might even be possible. Some of us have lives that are so filled to the brim with stuff we have to do, especially this holiday season, that there is no room to squeeze anything or anybody else in.
Modern day living devours the margins that we may have in our lives. And living without margins creates problems. Now with some problems, we know how to fix them. If somebody is homeless, we can bring them to a shelter. If they are in need of medical care, then we can bring them to a doctor. If you are in need of food, we can get you some food stamps, but if they are marginless, it seems as if we just give people one more thing to do.
Some of you might be wondering what I even mean by being marginless. Richard Swenson described marginless as “being thirty minutes late to the doctor’s office because you were twenty minutes late getting out of the bank because you were 10 minutes late dropping the kids off at school because the car ran out of gas two blocks from the gas station and you forgot your wallet.”
Marginless is fatigue; margin is energy.
Marginless is not being able to pay your bills; margin is having money at the end of the month.
Marginless is hurry; margin is calm.
Marginless is anxiety; margin is security.
Marginless is culture; margin is counterculture
Marginless is the disease of the new millennium; margin is its cure.
All too many of are living marginless lives. Think about it, how many people do you know that are overloaded, overworked, overstressed, overburdened, or overwhelmed.
But how can we continue to survive as individuals, as families, as a planet—with finite resources. How do we live out our faith and live with integrity in a world where the pace of existence is so fast —with such high demands and expectations and a finite amount of time. We can produce many things, but we cannot produce more time. There is a finite amount of time in each day. The thing we so often need most, is what some refer to as Sabbath, especially when we do not think we have time for it.
At some level we know that we need to stop and rest and be like God. At some level, we have this desire to have more time to give and experience love. We have this desire to stop and breathe deeply. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel once wrote, "On the Sabbath we specifically care for the need of eternity planted in our own soul." Sabbath is important, because it is when we stop the busyness, work, and noise in our lives so that God can do God’s work in us. It is not that work is bad, but when we work all the time work becomes a curse, not a blessing."
In the Gospel of Mark, there is a story about Jesus and his teachings about the Sabbath. Jesus and his disciples broke a handful of Sabbath laws by picking and eating grain as they walked through a field on the Sabbath. Pharisees, who were watching for just such an infraction, caught him, and accused him of breaking the commandment to keep the Sabbath. Jesus responded first by citing a kind of precedent. King David, after all, had done something similar. Then he said something very important. "The Sabbath is made for human beings, not human beings for the Sabbath." God did not command the Hebrews to keep the Sabbath just to add another rule to the list of religious requirements and obligations. Sabbath is an opportunity to nurture, restore, heal, and save human life.
The purpose of Sabbath is not to restrict activity for the sake of restriction. Taking Sabbath is important because it restores the health and wholeness and happiness of human beings. So, do something radical. Enlarge the margins in your life. Make a Sabbath. Entertain the revolutionary thought that your work includes the necessity of stopping, stopping what you have done, enjoying what you have done. Create a Sabbath. Keep a Sabbath. God’s gift to you is time. Cherish it. Rest in it. Enjoy it.