Gotta Have Margins!

I remember in high school getting a “U” for conduct in my English class. I asked the teacher why I had received this and she pointed out that “U” stood for “unconscious.” (English followed swim practice).

Margins really didn’t make sense to me. The margins were marked by those little red lines that held no power. They always caused you to squeeze in a word when you misjudged your writing room or worse you had to leave a gaping space on that line and start writing on the line below. I was a “squeezer” and many times neglected the margins completely. (In fact if you look at the 50 spiral notebooks in my office you would be sure to find that every margin has been ignored!)


I heard a sermon by Andy Stanley years ago about how important margins are in our lives. It struck me as good insight so I created small margins. These margins are protected from my normal scheduling. They are not dead head TV time or Facebook surfing times, they are simply spaces in my week where I make room.

I found after a while that these margins either must be embraced or replaced. Since I don’t sit still well I found something “productive” to do in these margins. FAIL! I began protecting my margins only to write a completely different story in the cramped space that I saved from the normal.

The result: Tired, living on production, moving…getting somewhere even…but not feeling full.

I think margins were what Jesus Addressed in Matthew 11:28

Come to me all you who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest.
How did I get so weary or heavy-burdened? Look in the mirror. Trying to live up to the expectations of others. Trying to make the most out of me. Trying to reach all of the goals that I placed in front of me. I – David Adams – I create the burdens that make me so weary.
  In fact, I protect them! “If I don’t…” Someone has to…” “This is too important to fail.” 
I am in good company. In scripture God called Moses on a mountain. Elijah into the wilderness. David was kicked out of his kingdom. Paul was was made blind for 3 days. Why? because they were writing their stories and filling up the margins! They were taking up space that was reserved for the Lord! 
You see. I have a lot in common with these guys! I want to make the most of life. When I leave margins open and God doesn’t fill them, I assume that He wants me to make the most of them. Almost like he said “Pass” and I am next in line. 
This is a killer. You see. The red lines that mark our margins define space. Our space is between the margins. The outer margins are reserved for teacher notes and comments! Even when the teacher doesn’t write in them…they still belong to the teacher.  
I am not saying I am going to slow down, but I am saying I must guard my margins. They don’t belong to my kids, my wife, my job, or even to me. They belong to my teacher. When I leave them open…protecting them…it is amazing how on those days how weary I am NOT.