The Edge

When Life Takes You to the Edge

Ten words, ten minutes, and I would swear time travel is possible.

My friends had just added their third child to their tribe: a baby boy that was born with unexpected, massive medical luggage they will carry for him as long as life carries on. I was transported back in time as I scanned the symptoms: heart defects, breathing and behavior problems, poor immune system function, cleft palate, poor development, twitching or spasms around the mouth, hands, arms, and throat, poor muscle tone, learning disabilities, huge variation in symptom intensity, and a team of necessary medical professionals and specialists.

Then the page blurred. The knot in my throat surfaced with a guttural gasp for air.

BOOM! Life as they knew it just ended.

Normal PLUS

The parents’ first two boys are normal . . . whatever “normal” means; from the get-go they knew something was amiss the third time around. I don’t know which is worse—knowing too little or knowing too much—about babies and birth defects. Both send minds swirling. I do know most parents go into stealth mode seeking some kind of resolution.

This particular family got a few answers yesterday—a hard, cold, lifetime diagnosis with long words, longer symptom lists, and a lifetime of challenges should the Lord choose not to alter their son’s conditions. They huddled together—drew the curtains, locked the doors, hunkered down, and hugged each other, cried, laughed, and sat in bewilderment because they don’t know what they don’t know. They will ask endless, unanswerable questions.

Don’t we often do the same when we’re at a loss as to how to fix what we think is broken?

What did we do wrong?

How did this happen?

Why us?

What now?

Who is at fault?

Was it a genetic thing . . . the mom or dad? (Does that really matter anyway?)

Then there are insensitive people who stare, sigh, or say things like . . .

At least you have two normal boys.

My friend had a child with that . . . it’s awful!

You should be thankful it wasn’t _____!

It’s been a few months . . . isn’t it time to just move on?

What a shame, you two had so much going for you.

God only gives children like that to strong parents.

God never gives us more than we can handle.

Emotions my friends never imagined feeling will bubble up, and doubt will cast long, surreal shadows over the family members’ lives for a while. They will grasp for what was, hate what is, and be terribly terrified about what’s to come.

No child is born with an instruction manual, so the Internet will be their best friend and worst enemy for a while until they settle in and find a new “normal.” No one can carve that path for them . . . staring into the prickly, parched wild without a clue.

Dry Land
(Photo Courtesy of

So, What is Normal?

Who in the world defines “normal” anyway? If there is a normal, there must be an “abnormal,” right? Somehow, we’ve allowed society to define some rather important things like:

  • success and failure
  • what is valuable and what is disposable
  • who is beautiful and who is not

Since when has society ever been right on matters of life and living well? Last I recall, one of the most powerful societies the world has ever known killed a perfect, humble man named Jesus.

To be more than candid, PLEASE set aside what you have been taught about Jesus and listen to the hard facts. Just stick with me:

  • Jesus wasn’t a “normal” kid as society defines normal.
  • Jesus’ mother said she never had sex but was pregnant, which sounds a bit sketchy if we’re honest (Luke 1–2).
  • He wasn’t necessarily attractive (Isaiah 53:2).
  • He hung out in the temple courts saying it was His “Father’s house” . . . having long discussions with religious leaders AT AGE 12 (Luke 2:41–50).

Then there were His friends. Today we would label them as the “wrong crowd.”

  • His cousin John ate bugs and hung out in deserts.
  • Matthew was a flat-out thief.
  • Judas betrayed Jesus, then committed suicide, and Peter bullied a Roman official by cutting off his ear.
  • Then there were the prostitutes like Mary and that other one who showed up for dinner in Luke 7:37.
  • Jesus hung out with all the misfits, from the lepers to the lame, the weak or wicked, the disabled and despised.

Jesus—who walked on water and talked to the weather, who baffled the world with what He said and did—was NOTHING like what most expected a Messiah to be. Would you have followed a guy with this kind of reputation? Would I?

Some of the best things in life come to us in the worst, most confusing, unexpected ways . . . starting with Jesus Himself.

Let Me Hear from You

My friends have no idea what is ahead of them with their son’s diagnosis. But here’s a truth we must consistently remember, disabled or not: No human being has a clue what his or her future will look like or how life will unfold. Jesus’ half brother, James, wrote rather directly in James 4:14–16 that boasting about our own plans is self-focused arrogance and evil. No one knows the mind of God nor do we know the ways in which He plans to work. He may choose to heal my friends’ son, or He may choose not to, but it’s all in God’s hands, not ours.

Perhaps you have struggled with disappointments or you’re discouraged because of what God has allowed into your life. Are you willing to trust Him? What would happen if you chose to give everything over to the One who made you? Because His love for you is unconditional, because He never makes mistakes and knows you best, why not give your life to Him? What would change if you finally let go? Please don’t wait another moment; after all, there may not be one. I would love to walk with you through this, so let’s connect today.

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