“Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble; it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him.” –Dietrich Bonhoeffer
I heard a pastor speak recently about his young son’s year of discovery and learning. He wanted to ride his bike without training wheels, so he approached his dad with the proposition. They carved a couple hours out of the schedule and after a few stumbles and tips, he learned how to ride the bike. The son next wanted to learn how to swim, so they spent time in the pool day after day until he was able to swim. Finally, the son wanted to learn how to dive into the pool. His dad, the pastor, stood in the pool and told his son to come and stand on the edge. His son stepped forward but stood about an inch or so away. “No, son,” the father said, “you have to stand on the edge. Let your toes dangle over!” It took some coaxing, but finally his son was able to do it. Slowly but surely he conquered his fear and dove into the pool.
The pastor talked about how in certain places in the world where the earth is transitioning from one type of terrain to another, there is an in-between place or line where the change happens. A mountain cannot simply run into open ocean. There is a place in between where it seems to be full of chaos and fear, but there is no other place in either the mountain or the open seas where there is such vibrant life. He quoted a geologist who in essence said that this place, though it is unpredictable, is her favorite place. She wants to always live in this line.
He said that in our spiritual lives, there is a line as well. There is an edge to the swimming pool where we must dangle our toes over the water. There is a line between the mountains and the open ocean. This line often feels chaotic although there is complete order in everything in God. It is a truly unpredictable place to be, but there is no other place where there is more vibrant life. The pastor said that this line where we are often fearful is also the line of change. The further a person travels from this line in either direction, the more complacent, content, and apathetic he becomes. However, at the line, there is change.
I believe that God is at the line. I have thought of life so often in terms of a journey, and it can be understood this way. I believe that I am in places now that I never would have dreamed when I began my relationship with Christ. I have found, however, that following God is not as much about getting somewhere as it is about being where He is and being as close to him as I possibly can. C.S. Lewis compares God to the lion Aslan in his writing, and there is a place where the children asked, “Well is he safe?” The beaver replied, “Of course he isn’t safe. But he is good.” There is nothing safe about being in a relationship with God just like there is nothing safe about getting on a plane this morning and moving to Peru. However, I want to be where God is and where He is calling me to be. Call it what you may: the center of His will, or standing at the line with my toes dangling over the edge: this is my place of fear, but my place of greatest change. I cannot refuse Him when He draws me in. I don’t want to be complacent, content, and apathetic. I want to be full of life: the life of Christ.
Today I am afraid, not because of what I am doing in leaving for the mission field but because I know that I am standing at the place of change. I have come to find that there is a healthy fear in life. This fear prepares me for the reality of the decision I am making. This fear alerts my heart: “Look! Something great is about to happen!” This fear is giving room for God to shine glory through a unworthy vessel. It is an awareness that God has something great in store for anyone who would give everything to come and follow. I am standing at the line of change.
Have you identified where the line is in your life? What is the place that scares you most to go? Could it be that this is the line where God is, beckoning you to come? It is true that at the line it may be unpredictable and may seem chaotic, but God holds everything in perfect order. At this line there is vibrant life. Is the relationship you have with God important enough to you that you would give anything to have it? Could you sell all you had for the pearl of great price? Could you pluck out the part of your life that keeps you from experiencing the fullness of God’s grace? Could you drop your nets and follow? This grace is costly but it is worth the price. I have found that I want to be in no other place but where God is, be that in the States or in Peru or wherever else. I want to face those fears and experience change. I want to stand on the edge and experience His life. There is no other place for me. Today, I am standing at the line. Today I am feeling my toes dangling over the edge. Today, I am diving into His arms.