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On Being an Edge

Those of you who have been reading my blog for a year or more will know that it is a Christmas tradition of mine to put a puzzle together. This year’s puzzle was gifted to me by my step-daughter. It is a personalized puzzle depicting a local historical landmark. Tonight, I decided to get started on my puzzle.

Another tradition followed by far more than just me, is putting the edge pieces of a puzzle together first. As I was putting my edge pieces into place, my mind wondered to my favorite question, “Why?” Why do we put the edge pieces of a puzzle together first? Are they more important than the other pieces? Surely not! If even one piece is missing, the picture is not complete. A missing edge piece often doesn’t even really detract from the completed picture. And there are much fewer edge pieces also. So why do we want the edge pieces of our puzzle to be there before all the other pieces?

Maybe it’s because edge pieces hold all the other pieces in place. But that is not true. It’s a myth. We might think they are holding the pieces together, but you could start from the center and work your way out and never put the edge pieces in and all the others would still stay together.

Is it because there are fewer pieces so they’re easier to spot? This could surely be part of the reason - maybe even the main reason. But in my experience some of the central pieces in a picture can be much more obvious in color and placement than some edge pieces.

I think the reason why edge pieces are traditionally assembled first is because they show us where our boundaries are. Once we have the outside edges in place, we know everything else fits inside to make a beautiful picture.

The same is true in life. We have people in our lives who are edge pieces and ones who are in the center of the picture. Edge people aren’t usually the most colorful and they don’t necessarily complete the picture, but they provide for us all, a sense of boundary, which, if all our other relationships stay inside, creates a beautiful picture for life. Edge people are usually older than we are. They are quite often our parents or a pastor, a teacher or a coach. Sometimes we discard or ignore the edge pieces but that usually doesn’t work out so well.

Our world has learned to rebel against boundaries. Edge people are much fewer than the majority these days. That wasn't always so. As we think about the year ahead, perhaps we would all do well to work on the edges first. That is, on being an edge.

Don’t be misled - you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant (Galatians 6:7).


Father, “teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).

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