We watched as he carefully stacked the rocks inside the jar one-by-one until they brimmed the top. He scanned the crowd and politely asked if we thought the jar was full. In uncanny unison we all said yes. But we were wrong.
Then he added pebbles, and after the pebbles, he added sand–until finally the jar was full. The pastor then went on to explain that when we take care of the big things in our lives first, the little things will fall into place, just like the rocks, the pebbles, and the sand.
But my life didn’t seem to be working like that.
I couldn’t help but wonder, “What if the rocks keep coming? What do you do when you have more rocks than room? How do you handle it when the rocks are more like boulders that threaten to crush your spirit and ruin your resolve?
At my age, I thought things would be less complicated. But they’re not. My younger self dreamed of a day when life would be filled with playing at the park with my grandchildren, hanging out with family and friends, and having spontaneous, adventurous travel with my man.
The empty nest was supposed to lessen my “to do” list, not expand it.
And it’s not like I don’t know what I’m supposed to do. I’m the girl who touts the benefits of time-blocking, loves to establish goals, has no problem setting boundaries or saying “no.” I embrace intentionality, I prize priorities, I savor organization, and schedules make me smile.
So, in a perfect world, you’d think that making margin in my life would just be the natural overflow of an intentional life. But it’s not. In fact, for me, margin seems more elusive than ever.
Perhaps you can relate.
We all know that life doesn’t always pan out like we plan. Sometimes the rocks keep coming. Sometimes our overwhelming circumstances can’t be contained in a jar. And sometimes, the margin we long for looks very different from the margin we actually need.
A.W. Tozer once said, “God knows us better than we know ourselves, and He knows exactly what we need and when we need it.”
The thing is, God is not surprised by our rocks. So we shouldn’t be surprised when God shows us that the margin we long for isn’t the margin we need after all.
Do you remember reading about when Jesus called His disciples to come away with Him and rest? He knew they needed it because they lived most of their lives in the trenches. You see, margin was just as scarce for them as it is for us.
Sometimes, the most powerful margin we can give ourselves is the grace to know there’s no margin to be found–at least not for a season and perhaps not even the kind of margin we think we need.
I long for my not-so-perfect life to linger long enough that I don’t always feel like I’m living in fifth gear. But that’s not my reality right now. However, I’ve discovered that even when we can’t push pause on our lives, we can always push pause on our hearts.
Everyone’s life is filled with rocks, pebbles, and sand–those big and little things that fill our hearts and our days…events and circumstances we can’t control or contain.
That’s the story of my life lately. But, I’ve learned that margin isn’t so much about finding a place or making a time, it’s more about finding Him in the middle of the mess and treasuring the truth that He is the Rock Who is bigger than any rock life hurls my way.
You see, in a not-so-perfect world where our rocks often become boulders, margin isn’t defined by something we strive to get, but rather, it’s embracing with grace-filled faith the precious truth that we’re not in this thing alone…and that no matter what, we’re going to be okay.Oh sweet friend, I don’t know what you’re going through, but the One who has called you to it will also see you through it. Click To Tweet
He is with you. He is for you. And in the middle of the messy places, when the margin you long for seems like a mystery, just remember, your rocks may be big and even threaten to take you down, but hang tight to the truth that The Rock is bigger than any rock you’re facing today.
Take heart and be encouraged. The Lord God is your margin and He is always enough. When you can’t push pause on your life, push pause on your heart and you’ll find He’s been there in the margin of your not-so-perfect world all along.
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV).
Father, I know You see what I’m going through and I feel as though I can barely catch my breath. I want to slow down and bask in the beauty of Your presence. I never want my life to be so loud that I drown out Your still small voice and then wonder where You are. So, for just this quiet moment, I’m pushing pause on my heart and pressing into You. You know the rocks in my life keep coming and are weighing me down, but I’m thankful that when I call to You, You lead me to the Rock that is higher than I. You lead me to Yourself (Psalm 61:2).
It’s easy to let the size and number of your rocks overwhelm you and leave you feeling frazzled. Sometimes you just need to remind your rocks (and yourself) just how big your Rock is. Perhaps it’s time you do that today.
Stephanie Shott is a conference speaker, Bible teacher, author, and founder of The MOM Initiative, a ministry devoted to helping churches and missionaries impact their communities and this culture for Christ through the power of missional mentoring. She is called upon by media outlets to share her story of abuse, brokenness, and redemption. To find out more visit www.stephanieshott.com and www.themominitiative.com.