I don’t like edges. When we were small, our wild and zany grandmother and her equally brave and brazen sister took all the grandchildren to Niagra Falls. While I loved eating milkshakes for breakfast and being spoiled rotten, I remember cowering in fear at the edges of the falls. My younger sister and cousins were hanging on the railing, in awe, while I sat four feet back shaking with nerves.
It seems old habits die hard, as I am still not my best at edges. I don’t like change. Where others feel adventure, I feel anxiety. Where others teem with excitement and hope at new wineskins and ventures, I shrink back, clinging to old wineskins. They may be shot, but they are known. They may be haggard, but they are comfortable. I just don’t like the ends and the beginnings; I much prefer the solid middle to the bumpy borders. Given the choice, I would live my life without edges.
Thankfully, I have a Father who pushes me gently out of old wineskins, off the solid ground of the known and into the unknown. I have known the stubborn love of the Father with His long-view to my sanctification that forces me to overcome short-term discomfort, inviting me to venture out of the stability of the boat and onto the wavy water. Yet, of late, I have seen it anew and afresh through parenting my own children.
For years we have been praying and wrestling about schooling decisions, always approaching education on year-by-year, child-by-child basis. This past year, we sensed the Lord calling us to switch schools from a place that has been a precious haven to our boys for the past 6 years. While we feel convinced that this is His best for our boys, they are terrified to leave the known, a small, intimate Christian school for the unknown, a larger charter school with 4 times the students.
For months, bedtimes have been tearful, honest times of sharing fears, hopes and nerves. It seems my big boys, like me, have an aversion to edges, especially big ones. In my flesh, I want to appease them, to let them be comfortable; but my love for the Lord and desire to obey His call, coupled with my desire to see them stretched and grown in grace and maturity, keeps me gently leading them to the edges.
I know that in six months, they will look back and see God’s gracious provision of courage and friendships and will have solid ground to stand on. I know that they will be able to look back on this major transition at the next major life transition and remember the Lord’s faithfulness and steadiness in a sea of change. But they don’t know that yet. All they know is the discomfort of the edges.
I think of God’s people being led out of Egypt, purposely doubled back to stare at imposing sea. It must have seemed like they had been led to the edge of annihilation rather than to the edge of liberation. Yet, at those edges, God met them mightily. The parting of the Red Sea would become a memorial to God’s faithfulness, recounted in the Psalms over and over when God’s people found themselves at yet another edge.
When we find ourselves at edges, at the outskirts of various seasons or stages, we would do well to remember another set of edges.
Behold, these are but the outskirts of his ways, and how small a whisper do we hear of him! But the thunder of his power who can understand?” Job 26:14
What we have known and experienced of God up to the present are only the mere edges, the outskirts, the fringes, the beginnings of His power, His presence, His promises. He has so much to reveal, so much more to expose and strengthen in and to us. He will continue to call us to move toward the middle of His power; He loves us too much to let us linger on the outskirts, to let us stay splashing in the surf. He would have us continue to move toward Him.
To get past the edges of His ways, we must cross many edges. To move toward the middle, toward being more and more conformed to His image, we will cross countless borders of change.
Thankfully, our Father holds our hands and leads us across the liminal places. I find great rest in my troubled soul when I think of the Father walking my nervous boys over rough edges and into more experiences of His grace.
May God’s grace meet you at your edges.