Thursday, October 25, 2012

Margins aren't for insulating (day 23-24)

The longer I look at margins, the more I notice them. The shoulders on the road, margin unfolding alongside a stream of cars in either direction. The extra five minutes that Caden naps. Crisp white space in my favorite story, jotted with notes and exclamations. Scribbled dates and reminders in the margins of my Bible.

I've realized, however, that it can be tempting to see margin as a protective barrier. A hedge of protection around our lives. An excuse to say "no," on the grounds of preserving margin and leaving space for ourselves in our lives. But in church Sunday morning, I sit in the gymnasium of the local middle school, a King Cobra leering overhead, cleverly disguised by black curtains and carefully pointed spotlights. I shoot warning looks disguised behind a smile at the row of teenage boys from our football team in front of me, occasionally reaching forward to squeeze their shoulders and remind them of my presence and, you know, the fact that I have ears and can hear everything they're saying. And even in the midst of all of it, I'm reminded that our primary goal is never protection.

The message this week was from the parable of the talents (in Matthew 25). Here's a refresher for you in case it's been a while: a man goes on a journey and entrusts three of his slaves with varying amounts of talents (money). The first two (given five and two talents respectively) immediately invest the money and when the master returns after a long time, he receives double the amount he originally gave from each of them. He declares them good and faithful. The third man, however, is given one talent, which he immediately buries. And when the master returns, he gives him back the talent. He is declared wicked and slothful by the master for this, and cast out into the "outer darkness."
First of all, can I tell you that this parable is slightly straight-up frightening? Because here's the thing:  the "wicked" servant didn't even squander what he had been given. It's not like he spent the master's money on himself, or partied it up on the master's dime. Nope, he is fearful of losing the talent and so he buries it. He protects it for the master's return.

But we were not given talents, or money, or influence, or stories, or friendships, or neighbors, or children, simply so we can bury them in safety for the master's return. That's not enough. As Christians, and particularly as mothers, it can be so easy to believe that we are, above all else, to "protect" ourselves and our children from an evil world. We forget that we must invest to see growth. That we need to give of ourselves, take risks, make ourselves vulnerable.
Those margins I've been talking so much about? They are not for keeping the bad world out. They're not meant to be a white-picket-fence encircling our ideal Christian life. Rather, they are space to let God in. Room for Him to move, so we can better love our neighbors. So we can hear His voice and His nudging, and so we can invest ourselves and our stories into the things that will bring greater glory and joy to our Master. Because He is coming back, y'all. And I, for one, want to hear Him tell me "well done good and faithful servant."

“There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even an animal…We shall draw nearer to God, not by trying to avoid the sufferings inherent in all loves, but by accepting them and offering them to Him; throwing away all defensive armour. If our hearts need to be broken, and if He chooses this as a way in which they should break, so be it.”~CS Lewis in the Four Loves


  1. Do you still love me even though I still have no idea what margins are?
    Also, I am sort of tired of devotionals.
    I am a bad person I think.
    You are an excellent person and whatever margins are, you are rocking them out! Love, Beck

  2. I have always struggled with that story, because I think the servant did what he thought was responsible. Nowhere to the master say, now here's my talent, go invest it and make it grow.

    1. I know right? That's how I felt too . . .

  3. Margins are room for Him to move... Love that so much


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