Encountering Edges

This essay appears as the Commentary to the April 13th entry in Consuming Fire, the daily devotional version of George MacDonald's Unspoken Sermons.

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.