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Friday, March 04, 2011

Cliff Hanging

So I'm having coffee recently with a dear friend. He's a good bit older than me; quite a bit smarter than me too. Harvard graduate. University professor. Trained theologian. Ministry leader. This guy's a real pedigreed kind of guy.

We met when our kids went to the same school - and we both got sucked into the parent's association. That was years ago. Our kids don't go to the same school any more. But we've become dear friends. And our families have become close.

My friend and his wife are what you would call sold out for Jesus. They have literally re-arranged their whole lives in order to follow Jesus and His leading ways. Where has Jesus led them? They founded and run a global ministry to train pastors in central African countries (Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya and Rep. of Congo - to name a few).

Raising the special needs kids they've adopted and battling cancer at least twice have been part of the assignment as well. It has been a costly road for them. They've made extreme sacrifices financially and live more modestly than anyone would imagine. And they do it for the cause of Christ.

Now we're sitting in the local coffee shop getting caught up on each other's lives. Since we're so close, there's not much we don't talk about. And we get to the subject of money. We've both known some pretty difficult financial storms and have always been aware of each other's struggles in that area. When we start to examine where he's at right now, it is clear that the needs are met. The bills are paid that need to be paid. But the financial stresses in their lives are coming at them ... fast and furious.

At times, he shares, it seems overwhelming. Analogies come from both of our mouths as we try to make sense of what we think and feel in regard to our finances. Where is God taking us financially? What is God doing with our finances these days? How are we to respond to God when it comes to our finances? The questions are many.

We decide that it feels as if someone is stacking straw on the camel's back. And with each new bill (symbolized by blades of straw), we wonder if this next one will be the proverbial "straw that broke the camel's back." Yet the camel plods on - acknowledging the weight on its back - but somehow finding the strength and stamina to keep moving forward.

Finally my friend says, "We are fine. But we are hanging over the cliff. It seems to be where we live nowadays." So there it was ... the perfect metaphor. And as we examined it, we both looked at each other and said at the same time, "This is precisely where God wants us!" It is where God wants His people to live ... hanging over the edge of the cliff.

What is it like out there? Well, it's unnerving, to say the least. There's no cushion, no margin. There's never any extra for anything. So it's never a question of whether we'll sacrifice or not. It's just a matter of how much sacrifice we have to make and when we have to make it. It is sobering, but not frightening.

There's a peace about God's people who live hanging over the edge of the cliff. They know, from firsthand experience, that God will show up. He is the cliff. He is the canyon below the cliff. And He is the air through which we'd fall if we ever let go of the edge of that cliff.

You see, when God's people live life on God's terms, we tend to take risks. It's like stepping out of the boat without knowing how deep the water is, what kind of creatures might be in the water, how high the waves could get, how far away the boat will be or even whether or not I know how to swim. And still I get out of the boat. To follow God.

But when God's people step out of the proverbial boat, they find the true God of the universe. They find the God that cares, that shows up, that is faithful and trustworthy. So financially, hanging over the edge of the cliff means that I don't know how much money I'll have or how much money I'll need. But I know who God is and I trust him with both my financial resources and my financial responsibilities and needs.

I'm never sure if the money will be enough. But I'm always certain that God will be enough. I don't know if I'll have enough money, but I trust that God will either provide that much money - or He'll do amazing things with the bills that arrive on my doorstep. It's what life hanging over the edge of the cliff looks like.

So today I acquired a good refresher course in geography. I was reminded that life on the edge is not only where it's at --- but it's where God is at. Quite frankly, there's no place we'd rather be.

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