Life Margins

Leviticus changed my life.

No really, I learned a valuable agriculturally-based life lesson from Leviticus last week. Lev. 23:22 reads, “And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, nor shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the LORD your God.” Life changing, right? Okay, maybe it needs some explanation. Leviticus is a book of rules and guidelines for life which God is giving to His people, the Israelites. He is showing them how to care for themselves and how to care for others. Since most of the Israelites were farmers at this time, agricultural laws were widespread. This one in Leviticus 23 encourages generosity by having the owners of the fields not reap every square inch of their fields, but instead to leave a margin for the poor. And what was the reason given? Becuase “I am the LORD your God.” This was a way to show that your loyalties lay with the Lord instead of on your own productivity. This thinking was training them to leave margins in other areas of life: in their finances, time, and energy.

Light and trees

This is where the message really hit home. I’ve gone to financial classes before and I’ve been trained on how to provide financial margins. I support my church, missionaries, and non-profits. I’ve worked to create margins in my giving. But I have no margins in my time. I try to squeeze as many hours out of the day as possible, (and then have two alternatives for when an appointment falls through.) I joke that my life is one large Tetris game. I am a strategist and a maximizer at heart and I want to wring every last moment of productivity from my allotted 24 hours. But this thinking has me exhausted, constantly wanting to wring out just a little bit more, and trusting in myself to provide instead of God. I’ve realized that my life is inhospitable to spontaneity and I have no margins in my time.

To put it another way, “I can do anything I want, but I can’t do everything I want.” I can write, work, speak, craft, cook, clean, run, and go to Disney. But not concurrently. I keep re-realizing that I have a finite amount of time and that I have to create boundaries which are narrower that the very edges of my life. I need margins in my life. Perhaps you can relate. I am determined not to glean to the very edges of my time, but to leave some for those who need it, and in doing so to trust in the Lord.

See, I told you Leviticus could be life changing!

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