July 3, 2017
The creek in our backyard was rushing after the rain the other day. Usually, it’s an ordinary, run-of-the-mill creek, flowing steadily, if not always swiftly, shallow enough for even little kids to splash and play in it. Most of the time, we can wade to the other side without the water coming more than halfway up our boots. But after a rain, it’s another story. It rages so that to try to cross would be foolishly dangerous. Our dog Emma tried it the day before yesterday, and found herself being swept downstream as she crossed. She didn’t like it one bit.
I was watching the flow as Emma struggled to cross. Midstream, the water moved swiftly around the bend and downstream. At the far bank however, a rock jutted out just far enough to create an eddy where the water swirled, flowing back on itself in a seemingly endless cycle. It got me to thinking. A water bug living in the eddy would see life very differently than one caught in the main flow. It’s the same stream, but the experience of it would be dramatically different, depending on where that bug found itself. Midstream would be a wild and exciting journey to new places; the eddy nothing but an endless cycle of the same monotonous sweep, almost breaking out to midstream, but always being caught in the backdraft that swiftly erased any progress made.
I realize that water bugs aren’t concerned with whether or not they are in an eddy or in the mainstream. A bug is only a bug. But we humans have brains, if we care to use them. We have the capacity to look around us and learn. As I watched, I thought of the difference between living at the edge and living in the mainstream.
She lived on the edge. Literally. Her house spanned the space between the inner and outer wall of the city. Perhaps she lived on the edge of the city because for her, life itself was spent on the margins of society. You see, she was a prostitute, not exactly a Fortune 500 business. She was caught in a moral and societal eddy, at times hoping for something better, but always dragged back by the current that swept others to their dreams. But living on the edge at times gave her an edge. Her line of work made her privy to the gossip and information that could come in handy if things took a turn for the worse.
On this particular evening, two strangers slunk warily into her establishment and sat in the shadows in a corner. She knew what that meant; two men a long way from home. But in the course of the evening, she learned who they were and what they wanted. And it was more than what she usually had to offer. Sometimes it takes living on the margins to see clearly. She saw what others were seeing, but she was the only one who really saw. She told the spies that the entire countryside was trembling in fear, having heard the rumors repeated for an entire generation. The armies of the mightiest superpower on earth were humbled by the people who were now at their very doors. Everyone from the high and mighty to the lowest of the low knew what was coming, but only this prostitute actually saw. And seeing, she threw her lot in with these two men, gambling her very life in hope against hope that this time, she might be able to break out of that eddy on the edge of the stream.
It paid off. This prostitute who lived on the margins, who had to settle for counterfeit love, finally broke free into the most mainstream of them all. Rahab the prostitute, spared when Jericho fell, eventually married one of the conquerors and had a baby. That baby’s name was Boaz, the very same Boaz who married Ruth, who became the great-grandmother of David, the king, who was the ancestor of Jesus Christ, Savior of the world.
I wonder about those living on the edges. Where I live, they are all around me, to the mainstream, nameless people who can’t seem to get any breaks. But it is here, at the margins, on the edges, where God is at work. It only remains for us to open our eyes to see, and to make ourselves available to God. Maybe tomorrow I can be a spy for Jesus, giving someone on the edge the opportunity to break free and become the Christ-bearer they were created to be. I am praying for it to be so, and thanking God that tonight, he has helped me see the edges by looking at our creek.