I am in a very dangerous place in my life right now.
I recently accepted a part time job with full time responsibilities, teaching 4th year high school students in a prominent Chinese school in downtown Manila. The potential of the ministry is huge, around 170 students to be taught Christian values and the Bible weekly.
The problem is that I am already pastoring a church, homeschooling my kids, as well as teaching part-time at a Christian college this time in the heart of Ortigas. For the past two weeks, I still managed to do all my tasks and what’s expected of me…barely.
I do not want barely. I covet margin.
By the grace of God, I can honestly say for the past four years of my life, I’ve lived with margins. Sermons finished weeks or even months ahead; lessons finished ahead; no rush; no pressure, no unhealthy stress.
Now I’m making it by the skin of my teeth.
To be honest, I am not adverse to hard work or even busyness. Our Lord Jesus Christ, while here on earth was a very busy man, sometimes even foregoing to eat. He slept soundly even in the midst of a terrifying storm, a sure sign of a fatigued person.
2008 can be considered a major turning point in my life. I went to Singapore to listen to Ptr Edmund Chan talk about discipleship for the first time. I came back not only with a renewed purpose and vision for discipleship, but more importantly, a revived heart and a refreshed soul.
It was from Ptr Edmund that I first came across the value of restedness. It was not simply resting from work, but working from rest.
Before Ptr Edmund, I had already read Richard Foster, Dallas Willard, and Dr. Richard Swenson (whose book Margin had a profound impact on me, and thus the title of this blog). They espoused the same theme, but sadly, for whatever reason, my applications were more hit and miss and more stop than start.
Sometime 2009, during a time of prayer, the Lord showed me a vision (not literally, but as real as it gets). In my mind’s eye, I saw an empty cup being filled to overflow by an invisible hand. After the water from the cup was brimming over, another empty cup was placed beside it. The first cup then proceeded to fill the second cup from its overflow.
I sense the Lord saying to me, “from this moment on, minister not from the surface, but from the depths.”
That’s when my daily Quiet Times and Prayer Times began to take on a deeper meaning and greater power and significance. My spiritual life took off and took me to a higher ad deeper level I have not experienced in my first 16 years of being a Christian.
Sadly, that was then, and there is now.
Today the margin is slowly thinning out. I am afraid of running on fumes, on adrenaline alone. I continue to have my daily devotions, but somehow I feel depleted. More than the discipline of devotions, it is the state of having a rested heart and spirit that takes priority. I pray I will be a good steward of the open doors and blessings God has so graciously given to me. Not just doing good things, but doings things good as well.
These lines from the song ‘’Awakening’’ by Chris Tomlin speaks deeply to me:
‘’Like the rising sun that shines From the darkness comes a light I hear Your voice and this is my Awakening’’
A prayer of a desperate man: ‘’Lord, help me live with margin again, that I may never short-change the people I love and live with, and the people I minister to. Help me to create spaces once again, room reserved for You and for margin.’’