Someone has taken the concept of idle hands being the devil’s workshop and decided children and teens should not have a spare moment of unscheduled time. Schools are pressured to give lots of homework and keep kids at the building for as many hours as possible. Extra curricular activities often demand young people practice or perform six to seven days a week – all year. We run our kids from activity to activity, coming home in time for them to do homework and get inadequate amounts of sleep. If our kids do have a rare free moment, all they have the energy to do is zone out in front of a screen – watching videos or playing games.
While all of that constant activity may indeed keep most kids out of terrible trouble (trust me if they want to find it, they will still get in trouble), it is also robbing our kids of some things that could help them grow to be strong Christian adults. To develop an active, living faith takes time and more importantly time to do nothing but read the Bible, pray and think. While those things can all be done on the run, it just doesn’t have the same effect as when those activities are done in the still of margin time.
As Christians, we have lost the concept of Sabbath rest. It’s not commanded in the New Testament and although parts of it were probably carried into Christianity, between changing the day of worship and now our modern culture’s need for “productive” time and money, it has all but disappeared.
I think we need to bring back the idea of Sabbath rest for us and our kids. To be clear, there is no New Testament command I can find for it. I believe though the example God set during the Creation and the fact Sabbath predates the Old Law, means God finds great value in the concept.
The beauty of the original idea of Sabbath is that you removed work and the other things that distract us from God. The entire time period was to be spent not just in worship but in developing a relationship with God – through personal Bible study, prayer and just being still and allowing everything to sink in to our very core being.
The older I get, the more convinced I have become that our children absolutely must spend time reading the Bible for themselves. They need time for focused prayer. They need time to be still and just be with God – meditating on His commands and principles, dreaming godly dreams, thinking about how to put what they read in the Bible into practice.
I won’t kid you. Making time for that Sabbath margin in the lives of your kids will most likely be very difficult and even painful. Activities may have to be curtailed or even eliminated. You will have to find that same margin in your own life, to set a spiritually healthy example. The rewards though can be amazing.
If your kids never have time to read their Bibles, pray or be still with God, how will they make their decisions? How will they know who they are in God’s Kingdom? How will they be able to see the path God has laid for them? How will they know in their very soul that the answer to everything in their life lies in God? How will they learn to value spending time in God’s Word or praying? How will they learn the things God can teach them in stillness? How will they learn what God has gifted them to do and be able to develop and use it to serve Him? How will they know false teaching when they hear it?
All of those things can possibly happen in your child’s life without margin, but I truly believe margin will make all of those things happen – possibly in extraordinary ways. I don’t think we necessarily have to find that margin from sun down Friday to sun down Saturday or on Sunday. In fact, in some cases Sunday is the worst day to try and create margin because our churches keep us so busy. Help your kids (and yourself) create margin where it works best for your family. Even a few hours of Sabbath type rest a week can begin making a huge difference.