It happens every September.
As I’m casually strolling toward the end of August, fresh off family vacation, summer camp, baseball and lemonade, there is a monster lurking in the shadows ready to pounce. The thing is, this monster is there every single year, but I never remember until it’s too late.
So, like some kind of nature video of predator and prey, I step into September and am immediately overwhelmed by the monster… my calendar.
Work appointments, weekend commitments, volunteer commitments, and three kids worth of school, dance, soccer, flag football, and karate and my calendar is ridiculously full. And it seems to happen all at once. By the time I realize I’m drowning, all I can do is go into survival mode.
But when I’m in the middle of it an even more discouraging thought enters my mind: Am I missing what God wants for me in this season of my life because I’ve scheduled Him out?
Jethro’s Guide To Successful Calendaring
Moses struggled with this early on in his ministry. He was the default leader of the Israelites. He had successfully escaped Egypt (in slightly dramatic fashion) and now had thousands of people looking to him for answers on everything.
“Moses took his seat to serve as judge for the people, and they stood around him from morning till evening” (Exodus 18:13).
Yep, morning till evening. Why would he do such a thing? Well, Moses says it’s “because the people come to me to seek God’s will” (v. 15). Moses’ schedule was completely full, and it was filled with good, important work. And it was running and ruining his life.
His father-in-law, Jethro saw what he was doing and told him flat out, “What you are doing is not good” (v. 17). He went on to tell Moses that he needed to take some of these things off his plate in order to create margin in his life.
Good advice, Jethro. You should write a blog.
Life Transformation Happens in The Margins
Moses heeded Jethro’s advice. You know what happened next? He went to Mt. Sinai and received the 10 Commandments. In fact, the time Moses spend on Mt. Sinai with God were arguably the most intense of his life.
Scripture tells us that when Moses would come down the mountain his face would be shining–like a glow-in-the-dark object that has been sitting directly under a light bulb for days.
But what would have happened had he continued to act as judge over the people day and night? He wouldn’t have had time to spend with God. He may never have made it to Mt. Sinai.
The margins are where God captures our heart and transforms our lives. The margins are where we start to shine. The margins are where important things are sacrificed for what matters most.
The Margins are Set Before You Fill the Paper
It’s really hard to have margin when you’re just reacting to your calendar. That’s because everything is urgent and immediate. There must be a better way!
If we are going to grow in our relationship with God, hear his voice in our lives, and move in the direction of our created purpose, we need room to do it. I know, I know, you’re busy. But ask yourself this: Are you busier than Jesus was during his 3-year ministry? Is your life filled with more important things than his?
Why do I ask? Because Jesus regularly left his important schedule in order to spend time alone with his Heavenly Father – time on what matters most.
3 Ways to Tame the Monster and Create Margin for God
#1 Start with God to make sure you end with God
We don’t typically grow closer to God, or more on task with our calling and purpose by accident (this is true of anything worth pursuing). We have to be intentional. As you look toward this fall (Sept. – Nov.), instead of starting with everyone’s schedule, grab a cup of coffee and a notebook and answer these questions first:
A. What will help you / your family grow closer to God in this season?
B. What will you need to start or stop doing in order to create (and protect) the margins?
#2 Schedule God in the Margins
I believe there is a Mt. Sinai where God wants to meet with you. It’s a place where God wants to strengthen, transform, and renew you. A place where God wants to bless you. But if you’re too busy from morning till evening, even with important things, you may miss it.
Take out your calendar and find one 10-minute window per day and schedule God time. Then, use the YouVersion Bible App (or a daily devotional) and say a quick prayer for God to guide you. You will be amazed at how different your life will be even in the midst of your crazy schedule.
#3 Learn to Say No Even to Important Things
As your schedule frees up a little, you will be tempted to fill it right back up with commitments. Don’t fall for it! Listen, everything on the calendar is important. That’s why we say yes to them. But you’re going to have to filter them out. Ask yourself: Is this commitment moving me toward God’s goals for me / my family this fall?
Let’s stop reacting to our lives and start living them. Tame the monster and let your schedule work for you – to help you spend time on what matters most.
Want to hear more? Listen to my recent sermon series called “Game Ready”