How do you cope with interruptions? How about delays?
When I was a kid and we were late, I became embarrassed or angry. Later, when tardiness was the result of my own poor planning and irresponsibility, the consequences often affected others. I will never forget when my best friend from college said to me, after having waited almost 20 minutes, “I am obviously not important to you.” What an impact those words had upon me.
I’d love to say I was never late again, but it would be a lie. I still underestimate how long journeys will take, or find last-minute-tasks that voraciously eat up my time.
So what does this have to do with ‘Margins’ or really anything?
Tony Horsfall, in his book Working from a place of rest, suggests our lives need margins, space or time to allow for the unexpected. The Biblical idea of keeping margins around a field from which the poor can glean, can be carried over to the limits we place in our lives. Do we overload our schedules? Does a small delay, trigger a disproportionate response in us?
Jesus, rests by a well and takes up a conversation with a Samaritan woman. By the end of the chapter, Jesus is convinced to stay two days with the villagers. He is unruffled. It’s not the only time we see Jesus make a detour in his plans to deal with an ‘unexpected’ situation. When he was on the way to see a little girl at the point of death, he stops in a crowd and addresses a woman who touches his robe. What about the little girl, we cry?
Jesus said he always did the will of his Father. Horsfall puts it this way,
While Jesus was very clear about the task in hand and totally committed to doing the Father’s will, he does not seem to have fallen into the trap of being so tightly scheduled that he could not cope with interruptions and delays…
Although Jesus is the Son of God, as a son of man he never takes his own initiative. Rather he lives with an ear to the Father, listening for direction and guidance. He is able stop when God says stop and speak when God says speak, meeting the need of the moment, giving glory to the Father.
My heart is convicted. My schedule doesn’t reflect a dependence upon God, rather my own desire to determine my destiny. I will establish margins in my time, finances, energy, careful to listen to the Spirit indwelling and respond according to his prompting. I will consider alterations in my plans a gift of God.
Those who understand what it means to work from a place of rest can be described as ‘contemplative activists’. They work just as hard as anyone else, yet they do so in a way that expresses their dependence on God and takes account of their own humanity. They are led rather than driven, and rested rather than rushed. They are partners with God in the great adventure of making disciples in all the world.
I hope you will allow a margin in your day to reflect on Jesus’ example and work from a place of rest.
Horsfall, Tony. Working from a Place of Rest: Jesus and the Key to Sustaining Ministry. Bible Reading Fellowship, 2010.