finding margin

This was a good weekend. I didn’t accomplish quite as much as I’d set out to do, but I’m not feeling guilty about it – yet, anyway. I spent a little too much time with the hair stuff, and slept a couple hours too long, but I made it to church, got over to Mud Island to see Patrick and did a good bit of what I’d set out to on the blogs for work. I still need a few lessons in time management.

Speaking of… I went to the Saturday evening service at Hope Church and they were kicking off a new message series called, “Finding Margin.” It’s going to be about the search for that buffer zone, that little bit of space and separation from the stresses of the world that lends you enough peace to go on. The gist of it is that you can find that margin only in Christ, and only through the peace God brings to your life. He is the only way to really get a “break” from the world. It’s a pretty basic idea, really, but there were a few details I took away from the service that were interesting. They made me realize how little I actually pay attention when I’m reading the bible.

One of the lessons stemmed from Matthew 11:29 (NIV), which reads, “Take my yoke upon you…,” and Matthew 11:30 (NIV), “For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Now, I’ve always just looked at “yoke” and figured it was another word for “cross” or “burden” or any of the other Jesus buzzwords. But the pastor shed new light on it by reminding us that a yoke implies a shared burden, so taking up the yoke of Christ means we’re yoking up with him, giving him half the weight that we’ve been carrying. He doesn’t have a burden himself, so we take no weight from him. The other element that the pastor mentioned was that a yoke controls the pace and direction of the animals within it. In this case, if we yoke up with Jesus, instead of wandering around the field willy-nilly, He will help guide us and keep us from going too fast or getting out of control.

Now, normally, the “control” element of Christianity bothers me, because I’ve come to enjoy my independence and freedom over the years. But something else the pastor said struck me too: We are always controlled by something. It may not be the same things all the time, but jobs, spouses, family commitments, volunteering… All these things control our lives at a given time. And even if they’re positive, enjoyable things, we can find ourselves overstressed and overwhelmed by the hold they have on our days. So if you believe that God is looking out for you and wants your life to be joyful, fulfilling and free of unnecessary stresses, doesn’t it make sense to yoke up with Jesus? Also, if you believe that He knows already what your future holds, what better person to team up with.

The pastor also mentioned escapism, which often has been my way of dealing with stress and problems in the past. He gave the example of a person under great stress flying off to a sandy beach somewhere to “get away from it all” for a week. But he reminded us that stress is internal. The stressors may be outside us, but the feelings of obligation, worry and anxiety are all us. So the burden is with us on that sandy beach, even if we can steal moments of joy basking in the sun or splashing in the waves. The only good way of easing the stress is by sharing the load and entrusting it to God. It was a pretty thought-provoking sermon, even though it lasted only about 20 minutes. I’m going to try to go back next week for part two.

Patrick called while I was at church, so I called him back and arranged to head over to his new apartment after stopping at home. I got to see his puppy, Layla, who is definitely vying for a place at the top of my Favorite Dogs list. (It’s pretty much neck and neck between Layla, Sophie & Zeke. Second place right now is Sydney. Third is Ace from the H.S. And Mortimer, Dotty and Jake top the list of beloved deceased doggies.) Patrick & I sat around chatting for a bit, catching up, then ended up at Wal-Mart in West Memphis, Arkansas, so he could do some grocery shopping. He was all concerned that he was showing me a bad time by spending our evening there, but what else were we going to do? We ate scrambled eggs and cinnamon rolls, then Layla curled up next to me on the couch while Patrick and I watched an intimate Matchbox 20 show on PBS. It was acoustic and sort of funky – I liked it a lot. I left there in time to get home about 1 a.m., blog and go to bed at 2. Good times.

All right, it’s time to get some rest so I can get up earlyish and deal with my hair in the morning. I hope it’s not too difficult to get it to behave…

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Filed under animals, faith, fun, recap

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