On the Brink


When we’re on the brink, does disaster always follow? Or can something wonderful happen? If everything around us looks bleak, can we feel anything but worry or fear? Or can we be filled with a calm assurance?

Moms raising kids with mental illness (MI) have teetered on the edge of disaster… times when we’ve stood by helplessly watching our child lose control or hope.  Some have witnessed their typically placid child suddenly lash out in violence. Others have seen their normally exuberant child shrivel up in despair.

Is it possible to face an uncertain future with optimism? When healing and restoration seem impossible, can we remain hopeful? There’s a man in the Bible who shows us that it IS possible.

Joshua and the children of Israel faced an insurmountable obstacle—the Jordan River.  How would they cross that body of water? God instructed Joshua to, “Tell the priests who carry the ark of the covenant: ‘When you reach the edge of the Jordan’s waters, go and stand in the river’” (Joshua 3:8).

God had commanded that the priests literally take a step in faith and stand. They had to trust that the One who created the seas would reveal His mighty power over that river.

It wasn’t like when the Red Sea blocked the way. In that case, God’s people took their first step on dry land.

With Pharaoh’s army fast approaching, God separated the Red Sea and provided a way of escape. God’s people didn’t have to step into the water. Moses lifted his staff and the Red Sea opened.  They first witnessed the miracle of divided water before they took their first step.

But, Joshua’s priests literally stood on the brink of deep waters. God asked them to move ahead in faith, without first witnessing a miracle. Could they trust God to provide a way out? Or would fear of drowning prevent them from moving ahead?

What did they choose as they stood on the brink? Fear or faith?

Joshua 3:15-16 provides the account:

“It was the harvest season, and the Jordan was overflowing its banks. But as soon as the feet of the priests who were carrying the Ark touched the water at the river’s edge, the water above that point began backing up a great distance away at a town called Adam, which is near Zarethan. And the water below that point flowed on to the Dead Sea until the riverbed was dry. Then all the people crossed over near the town of Jericho” (NLT).

They took a step in faith and stood in the turbulent water. And God was instantly faithful to His people. He dried up the Jordan so they could cross.

Are you struggling with that choice as you stand on the brink? Do you wonder if you can take a step of faith and stand, without fear of drowning in sorrows?

Our Good Shepherd of Psalm 23 is still in the business of providing and guiding.  He calls us to dip our toes in His oasis of care.  When we’re thirsty for relief, the psalmist reminds us to, “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him” (Psalm 34:8).

Dictionary.com defines “on the brink” as “a crucial or critical point, especially of a situation or state beyond which success or catastrophe occurs.” Success or catastrophe. Why does God take us to a crucial point where we anticipate some sort of extraordinary ending? Joshua’s story helps us understand God’s purposes.

For the Lord your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The Lord your God did to the Jordan what he had done to the Red Sea when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God” (Joshua 4:23-24).

There’s the answer: “He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful…” He takes us to the brink so that everyone might know the Lord’s is powerful. He gives us tangible reminders of His power. So that we’ll remember His power is greater than all our troubles.

I love the psalmist’s prayer about being on the brink:

“God, you did everything you promised, and I’m thanking you with all my heart. You pulled me from the brink of death, my feet from the cliff-edge of doom. Now I stroll at leisure with God in the sunlit fields of life” [Psalm 56:12-13 (MSG)].

May you enjoy your stroll with God today.

4 thoughts on “On the Brink

  1. Hi Vicki,

    Well, I will start again! Had a lot typed and then my wonderful Mac just took it away to an ad for a new iPad. Really!!

    Anyways, just wanted to tell you thank you for your words. As usual, you always hit the nail on the head. We have been in an accident with the truck and new trailer. I was hurt; now in PT for my neck, have plantar fascatis in my feet. very painful. Where did that come from?? I sort of hate to write you as is a litany of bad stuff. Its just been one thing after the other. I know you know the drill.

    Then, Sunday afternoon, after a wonderful church morning, I got the call. The dreaded call. My dil said Keith is in jail again. Tried to tell me what happened but you never get the full straight details out of her. Just such a mess. And I still know no details except that he has a $10,000 bail which seems high. I pray it is not a felony; he was in his own house. All I can say is that they brought the devil into their midst when they took in a boarder. I got hysterical after the call and lost it. Called my pastor in that condition and he just doesn’t know this world. How could he? But he prayed for me and he heard my cries and my pain. I am working through it again, oh Lord, do I have to do this yet another time?? It’s like a tunnel in the mountains: you can’t go around it; you have to go through it. So, yes, I feel like I am on the brink.

    I loved reading the Joshua scripture and how he led them and they followed into the abyss, so to speak and came out into the light. I must continually make myself aware that God is right there with me in the muck and that I will come out the other side into His light. And that Keith will give up his behaviors and take it all to Jesus! Psalm 56 made me cry. And makes me realize that He is all powerful, His promises are never broken,and that He and I will somehow, in His time, walk out of all this into His light.

    Blessings to you dear one,


    • I’m sorry I didn’t reply sooner, Patty. I just did some guest speaking at a local Christian school (Tuesday through Thursday). As you can imagine, I’m really wiped out.
      As I read your update, my heart responded to your words as it has in the past: with great sorrow, followed by relief. First, I felt tremendous empathy when I read about your recent accident (resulting in injury), your plantar fascatis in your feet, and continued trials with Keith. But then, I felt relief when I read your words of assurance in God’s presence (‘right there with you in the muck and that you will come out the other side into His light’).
      Yes, we can hold onto the promise of Psalm 56 that, “He is all powerful, His promises are never broken, and we will somehow, in His time, walk out of all this with Him into His light.”
      You have a way of describing our plight: “It’s like a tunnel in the mountains: you can’t go around it; you have to go through it.” What we face is unavoidable. Your choice of words reminded me of Christ’s words: “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:20).
      Serving the God who can do the impossible,
      [By the way, your words about a tunnel in mountains sounds like the material for a good message…stay tuned for a future posting!]

  2. Hi Vicki,

    So amazed you could do the guest speaking. I think thats so great for you to do even though you pay for it later. Thank you for replying as I know you are so tired. I know you blessed them!

    Thank you so much for your kind words. And funny, not haha funny, that you mentioned the scripture of faith as small as a mustard seed and God being able to move the mountains in our life , if its in His plan. I just don’t know how to deal with all this pain, Vicki. One would think I should be good at this by now but I don’t think you ever are ready for the next trial and all the suffering that comes with it. I try not to cry in front of my husband because he gets so very angry at Keith for making me cry. I understand that; I really do. Dads are not moms. And he is just so through. And I am not.

    The mountain of pain and suffering seems insurmountable for me at times, but I know this too will pass. I try not to think of Keith and where he is but thats really hard to do right now. I try to pray and thats hard too. So, when someone else is praying for me is when I feel so blessed. Today, a thought, just came into my head, I miss my boy’s voice already and will I ever hear it again.? I know thats Satan getting into my thoughts, so I rebuke that in the name of Jesus and try to occupy my mind with my Bible Study and getting ready to launch my new Prayer Shawl Ministry this Monday. Can’t remember if I told you I was doing this or not. i have 2 shawls made and another one started. My heart is really not in it now but I know I have to do and be as much as I can. My feet are really bad and my therapist gave me a pain patch for my foot today. Praying it helps.

    Well, I will go for now. Thank you again for your friendship. And I am excited that you may get a future message from my tunnel thoughts. That came out of me the other day at Bible study and I know that was the Holy Spirit talking and helping me in whatever way, shape or form it may be.

    Hoping you get some well deserved rest this weekend.



    • Hi again Patty,
      I’ll be praying for the Lord to put a hedge about your thoughts (so the defeated one can’t pierce through God’s peace). I’ll also be praying for your new prayer shawl ministry (you told me about your previous ones). And I’ll be asking the Lord to relieve your foot pain.
      Love ya,

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