Pierasmos is the Greek word for trial, so it connects to the whole trial they went through on the mountain.
Charis is Greek for grace, and seemed an appropriate name for heaven.
Erebus is an old word sometimes used of hell.
Skiathorus is "window of darkness" (Thuros is Greek for window, skia is darkness)
Aletheas is truth.
Joshua - I deliberately portrayed Joshua early on in a way that would make readers assume he was Jesus. Not only by the name (Hebrew for Jesus) but by his actions. It was to demonstrate how effective Satan is at disguising himself as an angel of light—and even as Jesus Himself. We are so blind and gullible. We need to be more aware of Satan’s skill at deceit (Jesus spoke of that in John 8), and his strategies to mislead us.
Frodo is just Frodo, a dog. He had no symbolic meaning. I love dogs. He’s a cross between our 14-year-old Dalmatian, Moses, and our eleven-year-old Springer Spaniel, Champ. I felt Nick needed an animal to bring out his kindness and emotional vulnerability which he wasn’t inclined to show to people because of his defenses.
The gerbil is human nature disguised as good and commendable, the scorpion is human nature as it really is—sinful and depraved and harmful to us.
The bags of stones—The precious stones analogy was inspired by this passage in 1 Corinthians 3:12-15:
“If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.”
The stones are works of service done for our Lord, some of which have the feel of a burden or “cross” which we are to pick up daily, but which have a joy to them that lightens the load. Hence, Shad is happier carrying several bags than Nick carrying one partially-full bag. The Lord gives us supernatural strength to do what He calls us to. These stones were picked up at night, and they couldn’t open the bags, partly because they can’t see what they’re picking up, just as we can’t see the eternal value of our works as we’re doing them here in the darkness of the Shadowlands. We won’t see the gold and silver and precious stones clearly for what they are until we stand before the Lord (1 Cor. 3). Friend carried stones a while in sense of Galatians 6—”bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
See also: What do the stones gathered at night represent in Edge of Eternity? (video)
Food was just food for the most part, but deliberate emphasis on the longing and the simplicity of provision. There was a hunger for the King, for Charis. Senaba was something my 20-year-old daughter used to say as a two-year-old. She would point to anything and everything and ask “Senaba?” It meant, “What is that?” (Don’t ask me why.) At first it was just a fruit, but then it came to be more the fruit of the vine, connected with the wine of Passover and communion, which the King shares with us and we with each other.
Did Nick shoot himself? No, Nick didn't shoot himself. He was about to, that was his intention. But as he sat on the stump about to pull the trigger, everything froze and his spirit left his body and went into that other world where Edge of Eternity takes place, where all the roads and people were. Then, at the end, his spirit reenters his body shortly after the same moment he left, so that what took months in the other world was just a matter of minutes in this world. His arm was aching so often because he was holding this gun to his head and his temple was hurting because the gun barrel, which was the Cyclops he sensed watching him, was pressed up against him. When he returns to his body he's a different person and doesn't want to take his life because he's come to know Christ and to see His purpose and knows the importance of following Him and going back to make things right with his family.
(Some questions taken from an interview with Andrea Doering of Crossings Book Club)
What do you hope readers will take away from Edge of Eternity?
I hope it will help people see Christ in a fresh and powerful way and trust Him in areas where we don’t see the results or rewards. We all need to be reminded of God’s sovereignty and of the tangible reality of heaven as our home. Through writing this book, the reality of my citizenship in heaven hit home to me—and the reality of hell, too, and the fact that we all have one chance to live life on this earth. Five minutes after we die, we’ll know exactly how we should have lived. Fortunately, God has given us His Word and His Spirit and His people so we can live that way now.
One of my favorite things about Edge of Eternity is the passages where the veil between heaven and earth is lifted and we, the readers, see things as they really are. Do you think this happens in real life as well?
Yes. Not in the sense of visions, perhaps, but I believe we all have moments, if we stop and pay attention, where we can sense being on the edge of eternity. And we know in those moments that we’re not made for this world, but for another world—where we’ll see the King at last.
Do you believe in Purgatory?
No, I don’t believe in purgatory. Edge of Eternity just has an imaginary world that allowed me to depict invisible spiritual realities in visible ways. The trees represented the threat of nature in a fallen world, in contrast to the nature-worship concept that’s now so prevalent.