Ever felt on edge? Ever come to the edge of yourself? Ever pushed your edges—the places you’re not sure you can go, doing things you’re not sure you can do?
Takes courage. Undaunted courage.
In 1803, Meriwether Lewis was trained for the Corps of Discovery, commonly referred to as the Lewis and Clark Expedition, by my grandfather (seven generations removed), Andrew Ellicott. President Thomas Jefferson appointed Grandfather Ellicott to train Lewis at the recommendation of Ellicott’s friend and fellow surveyor, former President George Washington. For a month prior to the historic journey, Lewis lived in Grandfather Ellicott’s home, learning surveying techniques and other essentials of wilderness exploration.
Grandfather Ellicott made certain Lewis was properly readied. But how can one prepare completely for a journey into the unknown? No one knows exactly when or where trials and tribulations might present themselves. No one knows exactly what kind of challenges might arise. No one knows exactly how one will cope when stretched beyond what one believes he or she can bear.
No one knows—except God himself.
And it is this God who takes all we are and all we’re not, giving us a courage undaunted to keep trekking, to keep facing our fears, until we reach our destination.
When Lewis and Clark and their crew came to the end and saw the ocean spread wide before them, they knelt and thanked God for a safe and successful journey. They celebrated at the edge of a continent that had brought them to the edge of themselves. After months of paddling rivers, braving and befriending natives, weathering fierce storms and harsh seasons, the Corps of Discovery had reached its goal—the Pacific Ocean.
Now, over 200 years later, I stand on the edge of the continent too. And not too long ago, I stood facing the edge of myself—all the edges I don’t like—all the ledges I had clung to for so long, wearied.
And then I gave up.
I gave up trying so hard for so many. I decided to start being a bit nicer to myself and let go of my own expectations of me. Instead, I have begun listening more closely to God, letting him cover the din of distraction, the noise of seeming necessity.
Only one thing is necessary . . .
To tune into God with all our abilities, weak though they may be. And God will take even my slightest desire and lead me in my journey toward fullness in Christ—one small step at a time.
I’m learning to wait and watch and listen more for the whisper of God. I’m learning to let him survey the territories before me and within me, leading me where he wills, training me for every turn I can’t know in advance. I’m learning to let go of my insistences and even my lesser hopes and dreams, realizing that there is no hope or dream greater than a steady journey with God, no goal more worthy of pursuit.
As we pursue God with all our heart, with all our soul and with all our mind, he helps us face every fear with courage.
In time, we come to a place of discovery—that courage undaunted in the face of fear leads to life—a life of peace and joy—the life we are meant to live.
Courage undaunted in the face of fear moves us step-by-step toward places of glory, to vast expanses of wonder.
God is with us always along our journey. And so are God’s people.
I have come to a place of great discovery like Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. When people come together and dare to share their fears, holding each other up, cheering each other on, keeping each other going with God, stepping into unknowns . . .
. . . nothing is unsurmountable.
The love of God and others will keep us from falling off the edge of ourselves.