1 Peter 1:6 So be truly glad.[b] There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while
My margin is collapsing, and I’m shocked at how great my need for grace and mercy. I’m not the kindhearted, changed man I thought I was; but I’m grateful for trials that reveal my brokeness, pride, selfish motives, and otherwise yucky intentions. If the world around me is looking to me for answers, may God have pity on us all.
At the end of June, our ministry took part in a week long city wide evangelistic movement called “love Minneapolis”. It was amazing to see the Body of Christ work together across denominal and racial boundaries to work towards the Great Commission. It was also very exhausting.
We were unable to find a place to retreat and recharge, so we’ve continued to plug away at our normal schedule: neighborhood lunches and BBQ’s, kids Bible studies, Adult Bible studies, discipleship, building projects, worship, prayer, networking, ect.
Two worlds are colliding, and it’s messy
World 1: Jesus is awesome and alive. His Power and Majesty have everything I need for life, and He is the desire of my heart.
World 2: I have a physical body which requires proper nutrition, sleep and margin to function properly.
The Myth of Margin
in Mark 6, Jesus’ disciples had just returned from a mission trip all excited. Crowds gathered, and Jesus exhorted his friends to “come away with me to a lonely place and rest.” On the boat ride to the retreat, I’m sure the disciples were eagerly anticipating some R&R with the Savior, a time to unplug from the busyness of ministry and recharge their physical batteries.
However, when they arrive at their destination, 5,000 people are waiting for them looking to spend time with Jesus too. This leads to Jesus having compassion, and telling the disciples to “give them something to eat.” Here, He multiplies fish and loaves and feeds the multitude.
Basically, the summary is: “Hey disciples, I see your tired and will need some time with me. Come away with me to a place that’s distraction free. We’ll hang out. It’ll be fun! Oh wait! Surprise, I just lied to you!!! There is no rest here. Instead it’s the busiest you’ve been, ever! Tricked you!”
The past 2 weeks, I’ve longed for margin. I’ve received none. Instead, people have been exceptionally and consistently rude to me. The pace of ministry has increased. Our property was broken in to. My tools were stolen. My bike was stolen. And I’ve basically failed every test. I have not responded in kindness or mercy. I’ve felt my margin is my right, and become short with others who seem to be disrupting my need for space and a ‘time out.’
This test is from God, and I am thankful for it. I thought I was the one who had the answers for the world around me. Instead, I’m seeing my pride and selfishness.
One of the ways I know this season is from God is:
- the exceptional and creative ways in which people are finding to piss me off. It’s like someone showed the world around me a playbook on how to push my buttons.
- A service station ignores me, then overcharges me for fixing a flat, then blames me for not asking the price first…even though they never spoke to me before they took the tire and repaired it.
- People complaining about acts of service done in my home, on my time, out of our own free will.
- the tools stolen were only mine. Tools that were borrowed from friends were not stolen. Ironic?
- Someone stole my bike, and only my bike.
I’m sure there’s more, but that’s what comes to mind. The point is, I’m pouting and acting like a big baby that my rights and comforts are being violated. My perspective has been off. Way off, and I’ve had to apologize to many over the course of July.
I’ve been reminded to:
- Pray more. When I invest heavily in the Kingdom, I have a tendency to want to invest heavily in myself afterward…balance out my efforts and such. What I’ve failed to realize is that “I’ve died. My life is hidden with Christ.” When my schedule doesn’t pan out, it’s time for me to press in and find God’s peace that passes understanding.
- Seek peace and pursue it. Reconciliation involves humility. I messed up with neighbors and children, and I’ve had to seek peace through saying “I’m sorry”. It’s humbling to apologize to neighbors when there’s a lack of understanding and agreement. When I can’t find common ground to resolve conflict, I quickly retreat to anger as both a weapon and protection. I have not been made perfect in love.
- Find more creative ways to build margin with family time. We’ve been exploring local parks and lakes, taking walks, ect. It’s difficult to live where you minister, and we’re learning about how to keep our identity as a family unit.
- It’s okay to say ‘no.’ We’re asking God to prune our schedule so that only what produces fruit will remain. I’m curios to see what else gets cut out, but personally, it’s started with fruitless entertainment. Too much time on my phone distracts me from the life going on around me.
In all this, I am tempted to be super fake. The reality is that I’m failing miserably. I am an urban missionary who is shocked at the chasm between ‘us and them’. My way of thinking is so completely different than the world around me, life would be easier if they just thought and acted like I do. It’s easy to appreciate cultural differences from afar and make social commentary on it. It’s a completely different endeavor to walk in love and mercy with those you don’t understand.
2 Cor 5 has been screaming at me lately: a ministry of reconciliation. Christ became sin for me. Christ reconciled me to God. His way of thinking is waaaaaay different than mine. Yet He loved me and pursued me. He wasn’t offended by my sin; He pushed past my alienating ways and reconciled me through love. My job? To remain in His love. Regardless.