Life happens in the margins
When we open up our schedules and live life in the margins, we are able to see firsthand how God works in our lives.
I have a practice of walking to lunch – it’s something I started doing while living overseas. I’ve since observed that, as a culture, Americans are more immobile than most. In other words, we’d prefer to drive than to walk.
When I first started asking staff if they’d like to join me for lunch by walking down the road, I was met with bewilderment.
“Why walk to lunch?! Don’t you know this is California! It’s hot out there!”
I first answered their puzzlement with a convenient excuse. “I need the exercise,” I said. Not entirely untrue … I do need the exercise! But it’s not the real reason.
Instead, I walk to lunch because it creates opportunities – chances for unexpected conversations, and for me to get to know our neighborhood.
I’ve started to realize that most of the significant conversations in my life happen unexpectedly. They happen when someone stops you on the sidewalk while you’re going to lunch. They happen when a church member knocks on your office door unannounced, and your conversations quickly steer toward faith. Maybe they share something significant that God has been saying to them, and you draw encouragement and strength.
In our current culture, we rarely have time for interruptions because we don’t build margin into our life. Unexpected conversations are seen more as an annoyance than an opportunity because our schedules are jam packed.
But life happens on the margins. Maybe you’ve heard the often-used phrase that one should ‘build margin into their life’. I’ve noticed that most of the opportunities I have to build the faith of others happens in the margins.
This was the way that Jesus lived out his ministry. Most of the healings, miracles and teaching moments happened unexpectedly when one person showed up unannounced.
The disciples of Jesus also functioned this way. For example, take the story of Peter healing a crippled man in Acts chapter 3:
“Peter and John went to the Temple one afternoon to take part in the three o’clock prayer service. As they approached the Temple, a man lame from birth was being carried in. Each day he was put beside the Temple gate, the one called the Beautiful Gate, so he could beg from the people going into the Temple. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for some money. Peter and John looked at him intently, and Peter said, “Look at us!” The lame man looked at them eagerly, expecting some money. But Peter said, “I don’t have any silver or gold for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!” Then Peter took the lame man by the right hand and helped him up. And as he did, the man’s feet and ankles were instantly healed and strengthened. He jumped up, stood on his feet, and began to walk! Then, walking, leaping, and praising God, he went into the Temple with them. All the people saw him walking and heard him praising God. When they realized he was the lame beggar they had seen so often at the Beautiful Gate, they were absolutely astounded!” – Acts 3:1-10
Life happened in the margins for the crippled man. He asked a simple question, looking for nothing more than a handout for that evening’s meal. Instead, he receives a life-changing transformation when he’s healed.
Let me give you a practical example of what this might look like for you today. Three weeks ago, a few of our staff where closing up the church and getting ready to head home for the day.
A man showed up unexpectedly to the church, asking for prayer. He said that he felt God telling him to drive to the church and see if a pastor could pray with him.
If I’m honest, my first thought was “I don’t have time for this.” But life happens in the margins, and we stayed and talked with him.
What started with a simple prayer turned into a long conversation about faith. We shared the Gospel. He wasn’t looking for a life-transforming message, but only a simple prayer.
When we opened up our schedules and saw it as an opportunity and not an annoyance, we were able to spend time with him and share the hope we have in Jesus.
I don’t know what life might look like in your margins. Perhaps you start by making more margin in your life. Perhaps its stopping to have longer conversations with your family, neighbor or friends.
And if nothing else, maybe you walk to lunch today instead of driving in your car.