In response to some things God showed me at a recent Urban Ministry conference, I took a prayer walk on Monday in my neighborhood. One of the things that I heard God say to me in that time was, “Relationship.” See, my life had gotten so full with kids, elder board, regular job stuff, fantasy football, exercising, taking kids to preschool and more, that I had lost touch with my neighbors. Time felt so scarce that I would go from the house to the car before work, and car to the house when I got home. No time to walk around the block with my dog. No time to talk with people on the street as I pulled up. I worked right up to my margins – I need to be home by “x” time, and so I pull up right at “x” time (or a few minutes after) and know that I need to run in the house and help with the kids. There was no time for relationship – what if people wanted to talk or pray or complain or laugh? That would take time and I was already late.
But today as I walked and prayed, I knew that I had time and space set aside. So when I saw a man and a woman walking down the street, I asked them if I could pray with them, and we prayed (in the middle of the street). On my way to an appointment later that morning, I was 15 minutes early. I was dropping something off at a friend’s house, and felt the Lord telling me to go and pray with their next-door neighbors. Because I had margin in my schedule, I did, and it was a special time.
Diane got to go to the aforementioned conference with me and it was just me and her for the first time in a long time. Being there with no kids for 4 days gave margin for our relationship, and we talked and laughed and spent time together in ways that we just don’t do when there are kids to care for. Margin gave room for relationship to grow, even in the midst of a packed conference schedule.
Margin is essential for relationship. When I am careening from one meeting to the next, I have no choice but to pass you by if I am going to be on time. Without margin, people are "one more thing" instead of precious ones created in God’s image. When my heart is crowded with worry and details, I cannot give you my full attention, and friendships feel draining. But when there is margin, I have space to care, plenty of green grass for Jesus to have us sit down in, space for Him to work.