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Chocolate Spread, Fields and Routines

My sister is one of those really frustrating people who is really good at everything she turns her hand to. She can sew, knit, bake, paint, draw – you name it she can do it. She is creative and fun and has an amazing way of caring for people. When we were little one of her amazing ‘skills’ was putting chocolate spread on toast!! For breakfast we all used to sit at the table in the kitchen and Elin would take great care over covering every single bit of toast in a thick layer of chocolate spread. She would push it right to the very edge and then, when eating it, she would always get chocolate spread on her fingers and sometimes all around her mouth too. All of this was to my dad’s huge frustration. He always told her to leave a bit of a gap around the edge so she could pick the toast up and eat it without getting into a mess.

I was reminded of my sister’s amazing ‘skill’ recently as I listened to a sermon. The speaker was talking about digging deep into God’s word and giving time to reading and searching the scriptures. Not just a 2 minute Bible app notification with the verse of the day (although they can be amazingly poignant). They were saying the biggest excuse for people not giving this discipline enough time is busyness. They referred to the verse in Leviticus about not reaping to the very edge of your field. The point being made was that we can fill our lives so full of ‘stuff’ we don’t allow time for in-depth reading of the Bible. Our lives can be full of good things…even full of church things but if it is so rammed full of appointments, meetings, activities and planned events there can be very little or even no room at all for God to pick you up and use you. Just like my sister with her chocolate spread on toast. If she left a gap around the edge she could have picked the toast up and eaten it without getting into such a mess! 

As though this wasn’t enough of a prod for me, I was also reminded of this concept in a book I’m currently trying to read. I say trying because I am so non-stop I struggle to sit and read books!! I’m not busy with church or work but with a small child…routine is important for children (and adults!!) but sometimes the routine can take over and become so rigid and constraining. In her book, ‘The Gospel Comes with a House Key’, Rosaria Butterfield speaks about her family routines. She is married to a pastor, homeschools her numerous children, some birth children, some foster children and some adopted children, she is an author and regular public speaker and she is an advocate for radically ordinary hospitality! The book is all about practicing hospitality in a post-Christian world. “Practicing radically ordinary hospitality necessitates building margin time into the day, time where regular routines can be disrupted but not destroyed. This margin stays open for the Lord to fill…”  

So…how close to the edge of my field do I plough? How far do I push my chocolate spread? How rigid and full are my daytime routines? Is there ANY space in my life for God to pick me up and use me? 

Do we have the capacity to stop and chat to that person in the supermarket who looks like they need a friend? Do we have the space to have another guest at the dinner table unexpectedly for tea? Is there wiggle room enough in your schedule that if someone turns up needing something we can be God’s hands and feet for that person?

Maybe we need to be giving our diaries to God every morning and asking him to bless the margin time as well as the specific planned activities.

Rachel is an Inspire Missioner living in Chesterfield with her husband Matt and their daughter Zoe. Sharing God with others through hospitality and food is one of their favourite things to do!!

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