Finding square footage in New York City is like finding gold. This came home hard when we moved into our new home in Brooklyn. We didn’t have a ton of square footage when we lived in NH but as we stood outside our new apartment with a U-Haul full of stuff, I started to worry if it would all fit inside! There was no spare room for unnecessary things.
But square footage isn’t only important in the home. Finding parking was much harder! I am learning to excel in the art of parking while trying to fit our minivan into a spot. Everywhere I look in Brooklyn, there is limited space. Restaurants are small, sidewalks are congested and subway cars are full by almost any standard. Extra room is valuable beyond explanation.
Learning to make room
But as packed as the city around us is, the lives of New Yorkers we’ve met are the most packed of all. The reason that this city doesn’t sleep is that there is too much to be done: the next commitment, a party with friends, staying late for work, getting babysitters for the kids, getting out of the city for the weekend. There are so many good things to do, that most of us rarely stop to ask if we should be doing anything else!
But we literally cannot be going going going all the time. That isn’t how we are wired. We can’t be like Tony Stark in the Avengers, forgoing sleep to create our next Frankenstein, without chemical enhancement. Why do we need rest? Why do we need to make more room in our lives? Because God wanted to remind us that we are not him. Day by day we require rest, we recharge through sleep, prayer, study and relaxation. How can we expect to be led by God if we never set aside time to hear and receive from him?
The reality many of us fail to understand is that everything depends on God. Despite the fact that we may believe the previous statement, many of us live as though the everything depends on us. We literally lose sleep in order to stuff more things into our lives, when God’s says this: “It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.” (Psalm 127:2)
So where can you create some margin in your life? Where are you pushing the limit on yourself and causing your most important relationships to suffer? What is one thing you can start doing differently this week to help you remember that you can rest because your Father in Heaven never does?
Making space count
Of course, when you are trying to make limited square footage work, there are two ways to solve the problem. First, you can make more room by getting rid of stuff. Most of us need to do at least a little of that. The second way to solve the problem is to be more efficient with your space. To make every square foot count. And not just square feet but cubic feet - stacking things on top of each other in order to make the most of each piece of space.
To be more efficient with the space of our lives, we need to start assigning value to the things we are doing. Not all tasks are created equal! To be more efficient means determining whether this is a “good” things for you to be doing or is it the “best” thing you can be doing with your time. We do this all the time, subconsciously, because every time we say yes to one thing we say no to another. But if we are more intentional with our time, we can be more efficient without adding more busyness to our already busy lives.
Jesus said that the greatest commandment was to “love God with all your heart, all your mind, and all your soul. And love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matt 22:37) When we being to evaluate the things we are doing in our lives, we ought to start asking the question - is this going to help me grow in and demonstrate my love for God and other people? If the answer to that question too often is “no,” then perhaps we need to start evaluating how effective we are being with our time! This is our mission. I recently read this quote from The Radical Reformission that made me think: "Mission is not what Christians do, it's what they are. We are all on mission with Jesus every day." Let’s go out and live our lives in the identity God has given us!