The Hardness of the Way

Children, how hard is it!

— St. Mark 10:24

Demands previously unknown are continually being made upon the Christian: it is the ever fresh rousing and calling, asking and sending of the Spirit that worketh in the children of obedience. When he thinks he has attained, then is he in danger; when he finds the mountain he has so long been climbing show suddenly a distant peak, whose glory-crowned apex it seems as if no human foot could ever reach—then is there hope for him; proof there is then that he has been climbing, for he beholds the yet unclimbed; he sees what he could not see before; if he knows little of what he is, he knows something of what he is not. He learns ever afresh that he is not in the world as Jesus was in the world; but the very wind that breathes courage as he climbs is the hope that one day he shall be like him, seeing him as he is.

The man who, for consciousness of well-being, depends upon anything but the life essential, is a slave. He is not perfect who, deprived of every thing, would not be calmly content; for none the less would he be possessor of all things, the child of the Eternal. Things are given us, this body first, that through them we may be trained both to independence and true possession of them. We must possess them; they must not possess us. No man who has not the Father so as to be eternally content in him alone, can possess a sunset or a mine of gold or the love of a fellow-creature according to its nature, as God would have him possess it. But he who has God, has all things.

Commentary

Encountering Edges
by Diane Adams

Eventually we will come to the edge of everything we perceive. Relationships, health, finances, even life itself, all have edges. Edges are where thunderstorms form--turbulent places where change forces its way into being. At an edge, one state of being ends and another takes its place. It's a romance with fear, a position for great loss or great gain.

When I was about 13, I had a pony named Beckie. She was a short, fat little creature with a fun-loving nature, and we explored the hills nearby together. One evening, we’d climbed the tallest hill in the back pasture. The sun was setting. I sat with Beckie, watching the town below. The hills were gilded in purple and gold, mist was rising, and the scent of dirt was rich and exotic. It seemed we were on top of the whole world, with everything spread out below like a doll’s playground. I did not realize it, but that moment for me was an edge, a time when everything changed.

felt that the world was the most beautiful thing that could be, and that I wanted to hold it and breathe it. It was like an electric current running through me, the thrill of seeing, the wildness of belonging with such strange beauty. For the first time in my life, I wanted to know God. Not the rules or the talk from people in church, not to get out of hell or please people, but to know the person called God, whoever it was that made that thing I just saw. I became, although not consciously for many years, a lover of the creator that evening.

When we come to the edge, whether it’s the edge of our own ability to understand, the limit of our reason, the beginning or end of a relationship. or the edge of the world as we knew it, the maker is waiting there. The only way we can move beyond what we have, become more than we are, is to believe that he is more. He is more than the pieces in our hands. He is more than a relationship; he is the source of all relationships. He is more than our reason; he is the foundation of reason. He is more than a sunset-glowing hillside or a pony because these things are simply facets of the diamond that is the mind of God.

To give up everything for God is possible only in so far as we believe he truly is everything. Nothing will be lost, because everything abides forever in the source. When times of change and decision come, we must look outside of what we see here, up to the one who holds it all in his hand. It is not a loss, simply a shift in perspective. Missionary and martyr for the faith Jim Elliot once said, “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep, to gain that which he can never lose.” In this truth we can encounter the edges in life and find a way to see and endure that draws us closer to everything that matters, even while losing the actual things themselves.