Here’s a personal confession: I sometimes don’t like to include margin in my schedule because I’m fearful. I don’t know what might happen in the spaces between my planned events, and that worries me. It might be something challenging; it might not be fun or entertaining. After all, in my pride, I’m pretty sure I can think of a “good thing” to fill that space with something I’ve planned. Between pride and fear, it’s easier to just control (or think that I control) all of my schedule.
Like a little kid (or a teenager, or an adult, or…pretty much all of us), I say to God and other people – through my actions – “I can do it myself!” That’s a nice little, imaginary world that I can pretend to live in, but we both know that real life doesn’t work that way. As soon as something goes sideways, I’m stuck with only myself to blame, and only myself to fall back on. I can run and hide under the covers, and try to stay in this imaginary world (plowing through conflicts and challenges on my own power), or I can face the facts.
A classic example of someone who thought he could help God out – he could “do it himself” – was Abraham:
- After God promised to make Abraham (named “Abram” at the time) a great nation in Genesis 12:1-3, Abram was afraid that the Pharaoh of Egypt would kill him (Abram) and take his beautiful wife, so he lied about who she was. Pharaoh took Abram’s wife, anyway (she wasn’t married, as far as he knew), until God intervened to fix things (Genesis 12:10-20).
- After God promised to make Abram the father of a great nation in Genesis 15, Abram caved into his wife’s requests and tried to obtain an heir from another woman (Genesis 16:1-4). God rescued both Hagar and Ishmael after Sarai (later, “Sarah”) drove them out.
The good news is that, once I leave my imaginary world (peeking out from under my covers), I find that there’s a better way. God wants us to trust Him, and not only does He have the ability to take care of us when things go wrong (as He did for Abram), He loves us enough to provide what is best for us. That may mean trusting God for answers, or – if you’re like me – it may mean leaving some room for Him to work, rather than doing all of the planning and “thinking” ourselves.
Read 1 John 4:15-21 today. Verse 18 reminds us not to have fear, but the entire chapter has a bunch of other great reminders for us, too.
See also other articles about “margin”:
- Does Margin Really Work?
- I can do it myself!
- “Someone Else Might Have Gotten It Wrong”
- What happens in the margin?
- I’m Tired
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.