"Standing at the Edge"

February 1, 1998 message
Long Green Valley Church of the Brethren
Glen Arm, Maryland  USA
based upon Jeremiah 1:4-10

Defining illustration:

On our major family trip last summer, we visited the Grand Canyon. One of the nights during our stay, we took in a special program not far from the rim. After it was over, we decided to walk the path toward the edge, as others were doing. Unfortunately we didn't bring a flashlight. It was, however, a moonlit night. The canyon is beautiful, even at night. As a family we decided to walk a bit further along the asphalt path running alongside the edge, again, something others were doing.

My oldest child started walking ahead of the rest of us. Repeatedly I asked her to stay close, which she refused to do, asserting that she knew what she wa doing. I grew very frightened, realizing that the more I insisted, the more she would back away from me, potentially into harm's way.

Reflecting on it lately (she and we did survive that one), it dawned on me how much depends, as a parent, upon where you stand in relation to your child. Do you stand with your back to safety, or with your back to danger. When a child rebells, as all children do, will he or she be backing away from you into danger or into safety?

The rest of this message was a reflection on Jeremiah with this image in mind. In Jeremiah's day, danger was perceived as "out there" (Babylon, Egypt). Jeremiah was called by God to reveal the danger "in here."  He stood for God with his back to the "in here" danger. The people, when they backed away from the messenger, backing into exile. Was exile the real danger? From the bigger picture we know that the time of exile was actually one of the most creative periods in the life of Israel.

From Jeremiah, I moved to Jesus, recalling his words - "Anyone who seeks to save his life will lose it, but those who seek to lose their life for my sake will save it."  Jesus stood between us and danger.

These are just sketchy notes of a message delivered without outline or manuscript.

1998Peter L. Haynes

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