Ministry at the thin places

I’m called to the thin places, the holes, the edges.  I’m called to those moments where people are at the edges of life and don’t even know it.  They are at risk of death, due to overdose, or suicide, or both.  They’ve wandered too close to the limit.  One more step and they are gone. 

It took me a while to see this pattern.  I kept meeting people at these edges. 

I went walking in downtown Chattanooga with friends many years back at night, and saw a young man, thin, dark hair, alone at a water fountain that had been turned off for the winter.  I left my friends and walked up to this stranger and began to talk with him.  It was a month later that he admitted to me that he was going to kill himself that night.  It was the fact that I started talking to him that distracted him, that turned him away from the edge. 

I’ve had several boyfriends who drank too much, not trying to kill themselves but trying to enjoy life more, in their opinion.  I was there to keep them alive in those moments when the body starts to react badly to that abuse. 

I’ve dated two people who had attempted suicide before I met them.

My father tried to commit suicide when I was two.  My great-grandfather, his grandfather, did commit suicide.  They say that someone was “successful” at suicide, but is it really a success? 

I feel suicide and addiction and overdosing are all related.  We walk too far into territory that we don’t know, and it pulls us in with its own gravity, its own magnetism.  Before we know it, we are sucked in much further than we meant.  We didn’t know where that dark alley led to.  We didn’t know – or we thought we were strong enough to walk away.  These forces are older than us, and hungrier.  They will have what they will have and there is no arguing with them.  The only real way to survive is to never get too close. 

And that is where I come in.  I show up.  I happen to be there.  I’m called to it.  This isn’t something you can schedule.  There isn’t an app for this. 

I stand in the way, with death behind me, so they can’t see that doorway. 

This isn’t something you train for, not really. This isn’t something that people even talk about.  We don’t talk about death.  We certainly don’t talk about suicide. 

(Written 11/8/2015, updated 5/14/20)

Witnesses to Jesus

“My testimony is not true if I testify about myself. The One testifies about me, and I know that testimony is true. You sent people to question John the Baptist, and he has testified about the truth. Man’s testimony isn’t important to me, but I’m telling you this so you may be saved. He was a bright and shining light, and for a while you wanted to enjoy that light.

But my testimony outshines John’s because of what the Father has given me to do. Everything I do proves that the Father has sent me. The Father, the One who sent me, testifies about me. You have never heard the Father’s voice, and you’ve never seen the Father. The Father’s word does not live within you because you do not believe the words of the one that he sent. You study the Scriptures, thinking that will grant you eternal life, but those very Scriptures testify about me. You are unwilling to come to me for eternal life.

I do not accept praise from men, but as for you, I know that the love of God is not within you. You don’t accept me even though I have come in my Father’s name. You accept someone if he comes in his own name. What would make you believe? While you accept praise from each other, you don’t seek the praise that comes from the One true God.

Don’t worry that I will testify against you to the Father. Moses is the one who will do that. You have set your hopes on him. If you really believed what Moses wrote, you would believe what I say, because Moses wrote about me. But if you don’t believe in what Moses wrote, then how can you believe in what I say?”

JN 5:31-47