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Outer Parts of Edges - By Pastor Thomas Engel


Imagine you are on a hike going up a mountain and are approaching a cliff.

How close will you get to the edge?

I love hiking, but I’m not much for cliffs. As I’m seeing myself walking up to the edge and then looking over it to see nothing but a lot of space between me and the ground, my heart is going up in my throat.

I have a huge fear of heights.

At the edge of a cliff, I will stand back as far as I can with no interest in seeing the scene below. If you go to the edge and tell me it’s beautiful, I will be satisfied with looking at your picture of it.

I think even if I had some kind of harness on me, I would still not get my toes on the edge.

Maybe you are a person who would literally put his toes over the edge, so you could get a daring but good look down.

In life, and speaking figuratively now, where are your toes right now?

Are you a person who is standing with his toes on the edge? Taking risks? Do you live for the adrenaline rush? Do you crave the excitement of uncertainty? What will happen next-failure and rejection with remorse or something new that will change my life for the better?

How do you think it’s true that most good changes happen when we are willing to let ourselves be vulnerable?

Somehow, I found myself watching a video of a skateboarder learning a new stunt. It was a stunt that has never been done before. The video showed many failed attempts, but then he landed it. He exploded with expressions of triumph.

I understand that it takes getting out on edges for new things to happen. But edges can be slippery and falls can happen.

Is it about weighing the risks to the possibility of having something new that helps me to move forward to be a better and fuller me?

I want to talk more about getting out on the edges of life, but first, let’s say somethings about playing it safe.

When we talk about playing it safe, we are talking about our daily routines. We have our schedules and to-do-lists.

Most of life is doing the same old stuff. We need to eat and to eat, we need to go shopping for food to eat. After we have shopped, we need to put the groceries away. Then, we need to cook, and after we cook, we need to do the dishes.

So far, all we have talked about is eating. How about laundry, cleaning the house, homework, brushing our teeth, and taking out the garbage and the list goes on and on.

Life has to be about routines, and often dull routines because every day we are doing the same old same old.

Usually, doing the same old stuff gets a bad rap, but if we want a mouthful of good teeth, we need to brush them regularly. Dirty clothes need to be washed. And to answer for all the people who have to get close to you in a day, even in a time of social distancing, they are glad you shower every morning.

So, life is about going out on edges at times, and it’s about standing back in the crowd doing basically the same things every day.

As Christians, how would you describe a life of faith?

On the one hand, faith is about keeping our eyes on the plow and looking straight ahead. Faith’s road is narrow, and we do not go to the edges of this road.

We live according to God’s will and focus our minds on what God has for us. Words that describe God’s will are simple, pure, guide, beneficial, plan, blessing, unite, freedom, and love.

When we hear about God’s will, we might also be thinking ”Law” and “Commandment.” These words are hard for our own egos that like to do their own thing. Words that come to mind are discipline, order, judgment, conviction, and condemnation.

It’s true that to follow God’s will we need to give up our ego that may take a prescription of a strong dose of humility. In our humility, we are bowing before our Lord because we know that His will for us comes out of His wisdom and love.

God has always had boundaries for us, but we can say to point that they are broad. Our Lord told the first humans that you can eat from all the trees of the garden, except one.

And the first humans just had to eat from that one tree.

As a king, David had a lot going for him, but one day he let his eyes rest too long on Bathsheba, and it caused him to do one sin after another.

Job never lost his faith through all of his hardships, but he did go towards doubt and received some tough chastisement from God.

Jonah did not lose his faith, either, but he disobeyed God’s order to go to Nineveh to preach God’s Word, and he found himself in a belly of big fish.

Straight and narrow is the best way to describe faith. We want to stay away from the edges. When we let ourselves get close to the edges, we might be setting up ourselves to fall over the edge.

To say again, Adam, David, Job, and Jonah did stray off, but God got them back, as He will do with us if we stray too far.

We are a flock of sheep, and with Jesus as our shepherd, he is always there with his staff to bring us back to the fold.

But, for us, I do want to talk about edges and faith. Life has its ways of pushing us to the edges.

Looking at faith at this angle, we see life in all that it dishes out. Life has its contradictions, it can be banal and complex. We can feel that we are spinning our wheels and feeling useless, and at times, we can feel that we are running in circles that leave us confused.

We may not know always where to go or what to do.

For a biblical example of the edges of faith, we can see Jesus and the Canaanite woman.

Both, Jesus and the woman are at the edges-opposite edges. Taking a condense history lesson here, we can say Jews and Canaanites were at odds with each other.

The disciples were willing to quickly shoo the woman away because of where she was from and also that she was a woman. It was not appropriate back then for a woman to speak directly to a man.

This woman did not have much going for her as a woman and a Canaanite in those days to be able to get the attention of a Jewish man.

But, she had one thing working for her-she had her strong desire to speak to Jesus. This woman was willing to go out on the edge and try to speak to Jesus.

She had a lot of motivation in her going to Jesus because her daughter needed healing, and she knew for certain that Jesus could help.

This woman must have heard about Jesus’ miracles. Somehow she knew for certain that Jesus was the person who could heal her son. She was not thinking that she would just give Jesus a try.

Her seriousness about Jesus is seen in her conversation with Jesus. She knew that she needed only a little help from Jesus, even a crumb was enough.

Jesus went out on the edge to help someone who was not Jewish.

And this is one of the instances where we learn how Jesus had come to save every person in the world.

Today, we have looked at different ways of seeing our faith.

Our faith is a narrow path that we try to walk as straight as we can and not get close to sides, so we do not fall into temptation.

But life takes us to the edges, and its at the most outer parts of edges where there is still trust and hope.

God is everywhere with all the grace and power of heaven and earth.

In the movie, An Officer and a Gentleman, Richard Gere plays a young man, Zack Mayo, in a Navy Officer Aviation training program.

It’s part of the training to test a trainee if he has the right stuff to be a combat pilot.

When Zack Mayo is on the edge and about to quit, he pulls back from the edge and says why he has to stay. He says, “Because I have nowhere else to go.”

The church is the only place to go for the forgiveness of every sin and in that forgiveness the power to keep moving us in a sure hope that God is caring for us.

Like Peter who started to sink out of fear of the wind and waves when he was at first bold enough to walk on water, he looked up and saw Jesus’ hand save him.

Only Jesus could help him, and this woman was willing to take just a crumb of Jesus’ power because she knew that even a crumb of what Jesus gives was enough to help her.

All we need is a drop of Jesus’ blood on the cross to forgive any sin that we have committed, but we get every drop of blood that Jesus shed for us.

So, we have a full faith knowing that we are more than good to go to move on in our lives in the power of the blood of Jesus.

Jesus pushed us back from the edges of eternal death, the rule of Satan, and the evil ways of the world.

We try to stay in the center of the road, but life has its way of pushing us to the edge. If we are at the edge, we can know God in Christ is everywhere, even at the outer parts of edges, where we always have enough grace, mercy, and love to help us.


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