I can recall that in my days of high school, I was taking language and writing classes that were geared towards prepping you for college. In those classes, one of the requirements was to learn how to properly format research papers, and the formatting had to be perfect or no credit was given for the project. At the time, I really didn’t believe that the requirement for formatting would be really used; you know, sort of like all those geometry and algebra formulas you learn but think you’ll never use in the practical world. Boy, was I wrong. Once I started taking college courses, the majority of the classes I attended required some sort of formatting for every type of paper or document turned-in. I really struggled with the formatting; honestly, to me, it was more about the content, and I just didn’t see the formatting as being important. One of the things that drove me nuts about formatting was the setting of margins. Different types of formats require different settings for margins (the blank spaces on your paper). When I thought about margins, in reality, what I wanted to do was adjust the blank spaces to fit how much content I had written in my paper. If the requirement was for like five pages of content, for example, most of the time, I would only have about three pages written, but I would try every trick in the book to stretch it out to five, including manipulating the margins. The opposite would be true if I was trying to squeeze in too much content on a subject that maybe required a maximum word count. Again, a manipulation of the margins would help remedy the issue. Thinking back on those experiences, I found that the problem with the situation was that I had a priority issue with my heart. The same goes for today. The things that are important to me and that I make a priority, I adjust the margins in my life to make it fit. I adjust the content of it to make it what I want it to be, or at least appear to be.
Imagine that your life is a story, and the subject is your relationship with Jesus. Do you have to adjust the margins to make the content look right? Are you squeezing the margins closer together to make it look like there is a lot of content to get the page count up? That certainly leaves extra blank space on your page, but maybe you’re doodling in that blank space in the margins, writing and scribbling things that really don’t mean much but can be fun at the time. I have noticed at times that the margins in my life need to be formatted and adjusted to the proper level. Honestly, I usually find out after the misery of realizing that I have allowed something else in my life to be more of a priority than my story with Jesus. My margins get out of whack. I spend less time with Him and more time with the worldly, fleshly things that my heart wanders off with. I find that this happens when I am not purposeful with all of my time, like the times I’m not working, or have not scheduled a time for study, or even in my leisure time. My margins seem to adjust for themselves to fit in the things that I don’t necessarily need and squeeze out the priorities. That squeezing-out process eventually leads to a flipping of the script. In other words, the things that were once outside the margins, the doodling, becomes the main content. The priority in the story of your life with Jesus becomes pushed out to the margin area and is no longer the priority.
So, how do we fix the formatting in our lives? Well, whenever I had a problem with formatting the margins in a research paper, the answer was to consult the textbook and the professor. This same principle can be applied to setting the margins in our life, refer to your textbook (the Bible) and consult the Teacher (Jesus). By spending time in God’s Word and growing your relationship with Jesus, it keeps your priorities straight, your margins set, and the correct amount of content available for your life story with Him!