A Straight Edge

The Word of God I think of as a straight edge, which shows up our own crookedness. We can’t really tell how crooked our thinking is until we line it up with the straight edge of Scripture.

~Elisabeth Elliot

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I have always preferred reading of people who, by worldly standards, fly a little too close to the sun.

Strong, decisive individuals with backbone and grit, those saints who once bent low in genuine humility, surrendering themselves fully to God, rather than man. The Bible was their compass, their measuring rod, their straight edge.

Think: Elisabeth Elliot, Corrie ten Boom, Jonathan Edwards, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Martyn LLoyd-Jones, and John Flavel.

There is a similar pattern to these faithful ones. Each took a strong stand for Scripture in the time and location in which God placed them. They were defenders of truth, sharpened through fierce trials.

Hot fires led to hotter faith.

Their stories and their books have impacted my life richly; their sufferings have bolstered my courage. Countless times, while facing difficulties, I have whispered: If Elisabeth Elliot, or Dietrich Bonhoeffer or Corrie ten Boom could do such-and-such, then I can certainly do this

These heroes of the faith shared a common manifesto: Love God and seek to relentlessly obey his Word.

No matter what.


You do not need to be a household name or a hero or a pastor or a famous somebody to be faithful and obedient. Look around. God has called you to serve him in this precise moment in history, in your specific location, and personal situation.

Perhaps you feel invisible, small, and unable to spiritually influence more than a few people?

Have you considered that this is by God’s design? As your tiny candle burns brightly, it casts light into the pitch of night wherever God sends you. You might never know the glow your life is offering to another.

Our allegiance, as Christ-followers, is first to the Lord, not to ourselves or to others. Do not neglect the small, holy tasks God places before you. Be a candle that glows only for him. He will handle the influences and outcomes in the way he sees fit. Simply be happy to trust and obey.

Many of God’s faithful candles are tucked quietly in the pews, serving the Lord, and stewarding their lives beautifully for God’s glory, with precious little fanfare. The Word of God is their straight edge, too.


When I was a very young mother, with two little boys, I joined a Mothers of Preschoolers group at a nearby church. On the first Tuesday of each month, several older women welcomed us, smiling and taking the hands of my dear sons, speaking gentle, grandmotherly words; inviting them to play trucks or blocks or puzzles with the other children.

We then gathered in a large multi-purpose room, young mothers filling up our plates with snacks from a long buffet table lined with casseroles and pastries and bright fruit. We chatted, suddenly feeling far less alone than we did before arriving. While sipping coffee, we turned our attention to our monthly speaker who had been invited to share encouragement in one specified area of expertise, such as marriage or friendship or finances or hospitality.

Often the guest had merited an award or achievement which prompted the invitation: maybe she was a well-known speaker, or had published a book, or had built a flourishing home business from the ground up. She was thereby deemed successful.

I enjoyed those Tuesdays, not for the speaker, necessarily, but for the conversation and blossoming friendships with other young moms, who, like me, were average women, trying to be a better Christian wife and mother.

The speakers were polished, engaging, and sometimes humorous, and their bios were books unto themselves. I found myself lost as their accomplishments were read, and I daydreamed, wondering if these successful women had ever sliced peanut butter and jelly sandwiches into neatly quartered triangles or scrubbed sippy cups, or cleaned up toys a million times per day?

Did they love the smell of baby shampoo as much as I did? And that feeling of chunky little arms wrapped tightly around their necks as they kissed their loves goodnight?

Did these women ever feel guilty for being a mother who despised crafts–glue and glitter and tiny shreds of paper everywhere? Did these speakers ever stop and wonder if they were failing in the eyes of God? Did they feel at loose ends in their Bible consumption?

These are the things I longed to know. Forget Home Businesses and How to Properly Apply Makeup, or Five Easy Steps to a Lasting Friendship. I could read about those in any old magazine.

I was ravenous for spiritual food but did not yet own the language to name this desire.

Instead, what was commonly dished out on those Tuesdays, (alongside fruit salad and muffins) was: Have plenty of date nights with your husband, remember that the days are long and the years are short, put your money into a good IRA, and Oh, by the way, you can purchase my book and sign up for my class right here.

And then, without warning, one Tuesday was different.


The normal speaker had come down with the flu shortly before gametime.

When the Women’s Director introduced the last-minute speaker, Mae, her bio was surprisingly short: Disciple of Christ, Wife to one, and Mother of three.

I leaned in, quite eager to hear what she had to say.

Mae did not have a manicure or pricey haircut. She wore jeans and a soft, pretty blouse paired with comfortable sandals. Her smile was bright, her eyes were clear, and her face radiated peace. She was different.

She thanked us for coming.

And then?

She changed my life.

Please bow your heads, as I pray.

While praying, she spoke to the Lord humbly, reverently, and with unscripted speech. Her adoration lilted and flowed. God was her first love and I felt it. I had never once heard an ordinary woman speak like this.

She then opened her Bible.

I prefer to center today’s conversation with God’s love letter to us, his voice, the Bible. Ladies, I am going to Read Psalm 139 to you.

And she did. As she read, she smiled, teared up, took her time, and was clearly unashamed. It was beautiful.

The Psalm itself is breathtaking, and in that moment, I was certain God was speaking to me.

In the forty-five minutes to follow, she spoke of its meaning, and shared how she prayed it over each of her children as infants. With courage, she exhorted us to remember that our children were people with souls that required spiritual nourishment and training. In fact, it was Psalm 139 that led she and her husband to homeschool their children.

This work of rearing children, she went on, is a physical, emotional, and spiritual job that mothers and fathers must take seriously. Trust God as you pour yourself into your home, your husbands, your children. Pray as you work and keep the Bible front and center.

She paused.

Satan, the world, and our stubborn flesh will try to pull you away from what matters most. Resist growing weary and distracted.

Her words were bold, strong, even as her heart was soft and tender. The Bible was her straight edge.

Nothing is more important than your full surrender to the Lord, she said. The outflow of this will make you a godly wife and mother. God is seeking obedience and faithfulness. Your little ones, like you, are fearfully and wonderfully made. God gave them to you, and please hear me clearly when I tell you that to be a godly woman, you must be willing give up some things that the world holds dear.

I could have listened to her wisdom for days.

My soul was full. I had been starving for far too long.


I was twenty-seven years old, and it was the first time that I had listened to a woman speak so passionately to other women with God himself as the magnificent centerpiece. The Bible was both her launching pad and landing point, and everything else in between.

I never knew Mae’s last name, but I can tell you this:

Her love for God changed me one Tuesday, twenty-four years ago.

That straight, straight edge had sliced my heart wide open.

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