“We have more ‘things per person’ than any other nation in history. Closets are full, storage space is used up, and cars can’t fit into garages. Having first imprisoned us with debt. Possessions then take over our houses and occupy our time. This begins to sound like an invasion. Everything I own owns me. Why would I want more?” – Richard Swenson
Has there ever been a time that you have felt like you have nothing to offer? To the world? To God? To yourself? This feeling is commonplace for many and has likely struck everyone at one time or another. That empty feeling. That lack of inspiration. That exhaustion. That feeling like you have nothing to offer to anyone or anything.
I heard a great talk from Cass Langton recently called “Rule the Margin” in which Cass discussed the need to create margin in our lives in order to receive and give in our lives. Cass pointed us to the Old Testament principle of farmers leaving a margin on the outside of their fields in order to be able to give to the needy in the land.
Leviticus 23:22 is a verse in which this principle is found. The verse says “When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and for the foreigner residing among you. I am the Lord your God.”
Could it be that we do not have anything to offer because we are too busy gathering for ourselves? Have we exhausted all of our time gathering our entire field that we have not left room for giving to others?
In a world like today’s, it is easy to see how this could become a possibility. Social media, corporate gains, keeping up with the Jones’s, just struggling to pay bills. Our thoughts can be wholly consumed by the need to get ahead, stay afloat, or collect more.
Instead, Jonathan Parnell says:
We can put down our tools. We can close our computers. We can forbid those thoughts about that next meeting or those emails waiting for a reply or how the numbers aren’t as high as we’d like. We can stop and trust him who justifies the ungodly. We can trust that when Jesus died in our place on the cross, he died to destroy all the anxieties of our lack, to still our ceaseless striving, to hush the winds of our self-justifying labor, to irrevocably connect us to the abundance of his grace we possess by his work, not ours. We can trust the Lord of Rest who came to give us rest, and say, because of who he is: Stop making bricks — you can stop.
Is it possible that resting, creating margin, leaving the edges of our fields for the needy could actually result in having more to offer? It seems that this is at the heart of the biblical themes of sabbath, offering, collecting, and giving. May we look to our Savior, Jesus Christ, who dedicated himself to times in rest and eventually gave everything he could (even his life!) to save a dying world. May we each take inventory of the need in our lives to create margin and offer what we can to a world in need.