Where Has Our Margin Gone? By Stephen Rigby


Stephen and Karis and their two children Abigail and Eoin are College Church missionaries, serving in Nairobi, Kenya, with Serge. Stephen is the national director for Ambassadors Football Kenya.

It's six a.m. and the alarm goes off. The rains and clouds have moved in on Nairobi. After a long, dry hot season we are enjoying the cool highs of 70 of the cold season. My early morning runs with our dog, Pili Pili, have been a damp and refreshing start to my day. We run a couple miles and, once home, I enjoy a hot cup of coffee in a quiet house—a refreshing moment of peace in my life right now.

I wish.

The reality is, days filled with later than usual nights which means my early morning wake up puts me in a bad state later in the day. And the middle-of-the-night wake-ups from our five-month-old son or two-and-half-year-old daughter have been more frequent than not over the past weeks.

My quiet spaces in the morning are now replaced with me trying to sneak down the stairs without my little girl yelling, "Baba Abigail?" (literally translated “Abigail's dad,” her current favorite name for me). If I successfully get out the door, I come back home to the sound of the pitter-patter of little feet racing to the top of the stairs, and my daughter requesting I pick her up and carry her downstairs. There goes my quiet morning.


Karis and I love the author Paul Miller. His books A Praying Life and A Loving Life have been favorites of ours over the years. A quote of his that comes up regularly in our conversations recently is “It's okay to have a busy life. It's crazy to have a busy soul.”

This is a season in our lives where we feel on the verge of this busy soul because of busy lives. Our teammates left a little over a month ago, so Karis has come off maternity leave to run the apprenticeship program on her own. New interns arrived a few days ago and we just finished an intensive orientation of cross-cultural training and initial discipleship material. I traveled to Rwanda for a couple days of meetings with the Ambassadors director there. We had a five day visit with potential recruits for our team. Annual reviews, meetings, team retreats, regular life in community and ministry and more and more.

Where do we get peace?

Through all of this, Karis and I wrestle with this idea of being busy in our lives but not having a busy soul. A busy soul struggles to listen, struggles to enter the lives of friends and community, becomes angry instead of laughing at the countless things Abigail says, and wants to scream at the dog when it barks at some rats in the sewers.

That’s how I feel sometimes. Yet I know that a peaceful soul in a busy life continues to see the bigger picture. God is at work. He is transforming us in this season of ups and down. He is using us to raise our precious children to be who he created them to be. He has called us to ministry with people he wants to heal, redeem and restore, and he uses our voice or touch to be part of that story. This is the reality.

His words are a source of peace in this season. The busyness is because of wonderful things happening (growing family, growing ministry, deepening relationships), but a busy soul that loses sight of what matters—that's just crazy.

As we struggle in this space, God sees where we are and I hear his voice, even right now as I write this, reminding me that I'm not alone. The simplicity of these words doesn't capture the weight they have on my heart. The deep peace that comes when I actually believe it—the One who sustains the world is with me and promises never to leave me.