Thursday, December 31, 2009

On the Edge of Life

I had an interesting conversation with a member of my tribe this week. We'll be co-leading part of a workshop next week that's focused on helping people overcome long-standing struggles in their lives and cross the line into authentic freedom. In coaching, we call this "edge work," because the line between where (or who) you are now and where (or who) you want to be can often feel like a dangerous precipice of sorts--a cliff edge to a free fall, the line between the calm bank and the raging current, or simply a step into the dark. Even though you may truly want the change to happen, it feels "edgy" or uncomfortable or painful or even terrifying to move your life in that direction. It may be something as seemingly minor as losing those last 10 lbs or something as major as drastically altering your lifestyle for the sake of your values or fully surrendering your heart to that deep calling you know is yours. Whenever you're trying to make a change, and the change is particularly hard or resistant or you find yourself failing repeatedly in your attempts to move toward it, then you're up against an edge.

Our talk of edge work reminded me of these words from Jesus, "Whoever seeks to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it" (Luke 17:33). I thought about how any move toward authentic new life involves a very real (and often very painful) kind of letting go, a death of what is, or of who we are now, to make room for the new life that is trying to emerge. The farther I go on this journey, the more deeply I realize that Abundant Life is not something you master; it's something you surrender yourself to. It's something you must die--that is, lay down your life, all that you are and all that you have--to possess. Only really, it possesses you.

As I wrote in Alone With God:
"Imagine a raging river full of white-water swirls and smooth dark boulders that cause the current to twist and churn. Now imagine yourself taking a running leap into the center of the current, plunging yourself into the torrent of rushing waters, and experiencing, as a result, the absolute loss of control over everything. In the beginning, that is how it feels to lose your life in Christ. It's a sort of "baptism unto death." But that is just the beginning.
Once caught in the flow, once the shock of the water enveloping you with such force begins to subside, you soon stop your struggle against the current, and, quite suddenly, you find that you are more alive than you have ever been. It is a wild life, even reckless, but the River flows with a purpose you can only faintly imagine, toward a goal that you cannot see. In joy, you give yourself to the River, and, at last, you rest...allowing this Power so much greater than yourself to take over the matter of your existence. And in that rest--the Sabbath Rest--you find yourself at peace, sustained and moved by the River to which you have given yourself, fully and without compromise." (Day 79)

May God grant us all the courage today, to jump.


Sara said...

Made the jump this week. Five days in and I think this is more a test of tenacity than anything else. Thankfully results are already visible to provide encouragement. Thanks for writing this.

Michael D. Warden said...

Woo Hoo!!!! Congratulations Sara!