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What happens in the margin?

I would like to give you a challenge today: look for what actually happens in the marginal spaces of your life.  Even if your schedule is booked solid, sneak a peek at what is going on – both with you and others – in those “in-between” times.  For instance, does God put good ideas into your mind while you’re in the car?  Do you see others engaging in meaningful conversation as you pass by their chairs at work, or in the aisle of the grocery store?

Sometimes margin just seems like the filler that connects the important parts of our lives, like the syrup between the pecans in a pecan pie (or “interstitial spaces”, for you Chemistry majors).  However, my belief is that the space in between the big events of our day can offer just as much value as the things that get more of our attention.

Here’s a personal example: During an annual Fall Kickoff event at church one year, I was eager to tell more people about opportunities to connect at our church (First Christian Church, Canton, OH).  Being part of this congregation was rewarding for me, and I wanted others to experience that, as well.  I was all ready with little cards to share more information, and was prepared to talk with people who were looking to connect.  (That is, I was ready to hit people with what I had already decided to say, and what I had already decided they needed to hear…not my most thoughtful moment.)

Instead, though, I found myself in a conversation with someone I didn’t expect.  This person was already involved elsewhere in the church, so part of me kept tugging me away, saying, “Go look for more people to talk with”.  However, I realized right there – during the conversation – that maybe I was right where I was supposed to be…in that place, at that time.  Maybe my own ideas about what I “should have” been doing during the Kickoff event weren’t what God had in mind.  So, I paused, replaced my own goals with margin, gave my friend my full attention (a rare, but valuable, gift we can all share with our friends), and finished the conversation.

If you accept my challenge this week – to look for what valuable things happen to you in the margins – I hope that you will find exciting moments within the in-between spaces.  If so, I hope that you will start to consider these “marginal moments” as gifts from God.  Then, share what you learn with others, to encourage them and to give credit to God.  To get you started thinking about these, read through Ecclesiastes 3, and consider what there is “a time for” in your life, this week.


See also other articles about “margin”:


A version of this devotion originally appeared at fcccanton.com, as a Study Guide for the September 8, 2013 message, “The God of Order”.  Re-used by permission.

5 thoughts on “What happens in the margin?”

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