13 Dec Work to Your Edge
I have been subscribing to a workout video streaming service for a while now, and one of the reasons I love and hate it is because of a mantra they always use:“Work to your edge.” They don’t mean “work to your strength” by that.
They mean work until you think you can’t do it a second longer and then do it that one more second. Hold that plank until you can’t do it any longer and then hold it for one more second. Do bicep reps until your arms burn and then do one more. “It’s there that you change your body” is what they say. I love it because I think it’s true, and I hate it because it’s so much easier to quit a few seconds early or to do two fewer reps than they are asking. Interestingly enough, any exercise is going to change my body for the better, but not in the same way as when I go past that edge and really push myself.
As I was sitting in church recently, I realized that this series on Exodus and the new Ezer study, A Woman’s Words, are taking me to that spiritual edge. I’m so thankful for teaching that leaves my mind almost boggled, but it’s so tempting to push it away and make it easy on my mind (12 reps instead of 15). But I’ve found that Jesus meets me in that place that’s just past what is comfortable and easy to understand—this is where He changes me. It’s a scary place to be. Sometimes I feel like this world is just falling apart. I see my mother’s body being ravaged by a sickness that leaves her unable to do anything. I see my father working so hard to take care of her when she’s always been the one to manage things. I see my friend whose children are literally draining the life out of her with their behavior and high level of needs. I see one of my friends lash out and hurt another friend deeply because of her own insecurities. I see a woman become zombie-like with grief because she cannot have children. I see a woman who lies and manipulates because it’s all she knows to use to survive the wounding she’s experienced from sin committed against her. And all the while I’m eaten up with anxiety because I’m just waiting for the other shoe to drop in my own life.
“As I was sitting in church recently, I realized that this series on Exodus and the new Ezer study, A Woman’s Words, are taking me to that spiritual edge.”
And it all seems too much. It’s far past the “edge” of what my mind can handle. I don’t see God working the way I think He should be working and on my timeline at that. I become so fearful and anxious, and I grab hold of what I can control. When Matt taught on Exodus 32, I found myself in the place of the Israelites—taking action and demanding something of God because I do not feel or see Him moving. He asked the question, “When you feel distant from or angry with God, what is most likely to pull your attention in another direction?” God immediately used the truths I’ve learned in this sermon series and the Ezer study to convict me. What do I do? I look for distractions and I self-medicate to give me something to “look to” in the future. I spend money, and I gossip and meddle. In a manic attempt to control, I create a distraction of comfort (by buying new clothes or buying gifts for others), and I go about delivering justice for myself and others by using my words to discredit someone who has offended me or to cast a negative light on someone I dislike. When I’m in that gap where I’ve lost my ability to understand and see where God is, the idea of rest in Christ has totally disappeared. I find it impossible to be still in His presence.
“I don’t see God working the way I think He should be working and on my timeline at that. I become so fearful and anxious, and I grab hold of what I can control.”
So if you find yourself in any of this—discouragement over the hurt in the world, wounded because of sin committed against you, fearful of the future or even the present, trusting in the very blessings of God more than God Himself, or simply mind-boggled over the way God is working in your life—what do you do? God also answered that for me after Matt’s sermon on Exodus 32. The song we sang had the chorus, “to the Cross I cling.” I’ll never be smart enough or wise enough or gracious enough to understand what’s happening in that gap between my “edge” and God’s ways, but that’s where I have to live to be changed. And if I have to live there, I can only live there because of what Jesus did for me on the cross. He carries me from my edge to God.
Chappell is a wife and mother of two girls. She loves biographies—especially stories of honesty and brokenness where Jesus shines through as Victor. In addition to writing, Chappell loves being outside in the sunshine and having good conversations with good friends. Chappell attends the Greer campus.