Friday, November 7, 2014

Sacred Spaces

There are two kinds of sacred spaces in our lives - those created by God and those graced by Him.

God creates some sacred spaces. He opens an opportunity, forms a space, makes a path, and invites us to enter into it. It's something He has done, or is doing, and He is calling us to be a part of it with Him. These sacred spaces are often intimidating; they often require courage. Nothing God asks us to do is usually easy. We must dare to believe, dare to hope, dare to trust, and boldly step into the sacred space that God has placed before us. 

As difficult as it is, most of us reach a point in our lives where we become fairly consistent in understanding what God is asking of us and knowing how we must respond. We get better, as time goes by, at believing, hoping, trusting, daring. And we are often blessed for doing so. (Which is not to say that such blessing comes without trial. It can, but it does not necessarily.)

But God doesn't create all of our sacred spaces. Some of them, He simply graces.

Here's the difference: in the first scenario, it is God who creates the space and invites us to step into it. In the second, it is we who create the space and invite God in. This doesn't take courage so much as vulnerability. It still takes faith, hope, trust. It still takes believing. It takes prayer and discipline. But it mostly takes us being willing to lay bare a place in our lives and call God into it. It's hard. It's scary.

And it sounds kind of weird, right? If we are supposed to be followers of Jesus, then we ought to be prepared for His sacred spaces. We ought to be ready to go where He calls us and not demand our own agenda, not even have our own agenda. A lot of churches, for a lot of time, have been preaching this very thing - that if we want to be God's, we give up ourselves wholly for Him.

What we have to consider, however, is whether we've truly been called as followers of Jesus or whether, rather, we have been called as His disciples. Are we supposed to blindly walk the Sea of Galilee, doing what our Teacher does, soaking in His every word? Or are we called to share our lives with Him?

Jesus spent a lot of time eating at other people's tables. He wasn't always the one feeding them; sometimes, they fed Him. They invited Him into their private spaces, into their homes, into the intimate places of their hearts. He came, and by His presence, created a sacred space between them. 

There's something important about God that happens in our empty spaces as He makes them sacred. No longer is He simply the God whom we pursue; He shows Himself as the God who pursues us. No longer is it simply we who love Him and desire to do good for His name; it is He who loves us and is doing good in ours. He's doing good in us. 

I'm taking all of this from a prayer I wrote a couple of weeks ago in a moment of piercing repentance. As I look back over my life, I realize that I'm not too shabby at stepping into the sacred spaces God has created for me. Courage, I have, at least in enough of a measure to believe that if it ever came to it, I could have more. I love God enough to go with Him.

But I questioned, as I considered that prayer, whether I loved God at all if I did not have the vulnerability to let Him love me. Of all the sacred spaces I have in my life, the overwhelming majority of them have been spaces created by God. Meanwhile, I sit here with a load of broken places that desperately need graced by Him, and I'm struck at how seldom I invite Him into them. Maybe because right now, they don't feel so sacred.

It's a hard thing to think about, how often we shut God out of our lives. How often we refuse to host Him at our table. How often we fail to open our homes to Him. It's more difficult, I think, to believe, to hope, to trust when we know the depths of the darkness in which we sit. It sounds noble to think about a life lived in God's places, a journey along His path, a series of altars in the places where God has called us and we have dared to go. It sounds like faith, doesn't it?

It does, but there's a haunting emptiness to it. And not to spit in the face of so much of our Christian teaching, but I don't want to live God's life. I wasn't created to live God's life. I was created to live my life; you were created to live yours. For Him. And the best way to do that is in both courage and vulnerability. It is in giving yourself to God and opening yourself to Him. It's in stepping into the sacred spaces He's created in your path...

...and inviting Him to grace those spaces that gnaw at your heart.

How many sacred spaces has God created in your life lately? 

And how many have you given Him the opportunity to grace?

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