Are You Living Within Your Margins?

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.” (Ephesians 2:10 NLT)

Margins are like guardrails on the highway, they help protect us from disaster. We need to set boundaries beyond which we know we exceed to our peril. We need to know our limits – emotionally, spiritually, physically, mentally, socially, relationally, financially, even theologically.

As Jesus followers who take our life in Him seriously, we tend to overload our schedules with good things, often to the detriment of the best. What’s our goal as a child of God? Growth? To what end? Christlikeness? But what does that look like? Really, in practical terms, what does it mean to be “more like Christ?”

Check out the verse above one more time. What do you see? “For we are God’s masterpiece.” Not might be. Not one day will be. We ARE God’s masterpiece. When we yielded our life and allegiance to Jesus, in His eyes we’re a finished work. He saw us as that priceless treasure before we were even born. He not only saw what we COULD be, He saw with His 20/20 perfect insight what we WOULD be.

The plot thickens because He hasn’t yet let us in on the details of how that will happen. So, what’s our part?  To “do the good things He planned for us long ago.” Sounds simple enough, right? But it isn’t always, but why not?

In our exuberant desire to follow as closely as we can, to grow as quickly as possible, to please our Savior with everything within us, we sometimes bite off more than we can chew. Many times for a believer our decisions don’t center on the good or the bad, but the good or the best. And when our judgment is tainted, who suffers?

We suffer, certainly, but who else? Usually those we love the most. Janel Breitenstein, quoting her husband, wrote: “Sometimes your overcommitment affects how the gospel is played out in our home.” Then she added: “What he meant: It’s harder for us to see God’s unconditional, happy, sacrificial love when you’re constantly stressed and irritated, doing for God more than being with Him. Kindness and generosity and relationships take time and a wholeness of heart—not a harried, you-get-the-leftovers love.”

What’s our takeaway? God’s desire for us is to walk each step of our life with Him – not behind, and not ahead. Side by side, like two oxen in the same yoke. It’s easy to see that, to imagine that, but it’s not always easy to live it out from day to day. So, what do we do?

For me, it involves three things. First and foremost, it demands a committed heart. When I want Jesus to be first; when I desire Him above all things; when He’s the Treasure for which my heart most longs, I’m pliable and able to hear His voice more clearly. Second, when my calendar reflects my heart’s desire I will live within my margins and won’t overcommit. Sometimes our most spiritually appropriate response is “no!” Third, give yourself adequate time to rest.

When we’re making decisions on the fly without having had enough rest, we’re going to seek to appease others, not please God. It’s a process that takes time to learn, a process I’m still learning, but, by God’s grace, I’m closer today to accomplishing the good things He’s planned for me than I was yesterday. And tomorrow? We’ll figure that out after we get some rest!

Blessings, Ed 😊

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