Thin Places, Thin Moments
A couple of weeks ago I explored my experience at the Western Wall where I spent time praying. I've also been on a pilgrimage to Iona which too I found to be "Thin."
But there are also thin moments, thin seasons, thin times.
Times when the space between heaven and our hearts is so thin as to be transparent. Times when God by his spirit, is so present that our hearts are effected, or should I say affected. These times are precious and all about God being present in a much closer or deeper way.
|A Cross on Iona|
One of the first times I remember this sort of thinness was when I was eight. God was doing something big and deep in Saskatoon Saskatchewan in November of 1971 and I attended the services with my family. I remember when the services were moved to the 3rd Avenue United Church which seats around 1400, and the only seats left were in the choir loft up front and so there I sat with my Aunt. I had a commanding view of the whole room. I remember that there was something different then. That there was strange activity happening for a church service. People were clearly under some kind of power that left them reacting quite emotionally. But those meetings changed the city and the church in the city. But what I remember of that night, which interests me, is that in my memory there was a mist in the room. I think it's just in my memory, but that's one of the impressions I have left over from that time when I was eight.
We as humans have different ways of understanding these things and we all have different sensitivities to the things of the heart.
Last Sunday here in the field, at the church I serve as a shepherd, there was something very thin going on. There were "Thin" moments here.
I began to recognize it as I came into the worship space and people were laughing and connecting, sorting out the kids and finding seats. Those things in themselves happen weekly, but there was a different sense in the room.
The service started and I began to feel this almost overwhelming sense of God being there. It's a strength and love that absolutely draws your attention, no matter what is being sung or what is being spoken. And all you start to notice is that you are not so much concerned with what you are singing, but that the singing is glorious. That you don't realize what is being spoken, except that the words are exactly what you need.
Until then I only had these "senses" of things. I didn't think it was enough to make a comment about. But then I began to notice that four or five different people were beginning to weep openly, right where they were worshiping. They would just start weeping, at different times through the service. To me, that's an indication that God is moving and touching lives.
That was enough for me to see and know that God was there and was doing what he does best, loving people. So as I got up to talk a bit, I gave people room to feel free to quietly engage with what God was doing in their hearts right then, because He was for sure there, at work.
It was interesting to me afterwards that very few people gave any mention to the difference in the morning. They didn't necessarily have the language to say "Wow, God was in his house." Their interpretation was personally experienced, like the few who mentioned how the music had deeply moved them this day. Or the four or five who approached me directly and and told me that the message I shared was made exactly for them. Or the few who shared with me what God had been speaking into their hearts and what freedom they knew as they leaned into him silently and received from his heart to theirs.
Honestly, the music was regular and the preaching was so-so.
But God was there, and he was in a mind to be heard.
Now, God is always there, to varying degrees. But the moments he shared with us on Sunday were Thin moments. The gaps between people and Him were tiny. People sorted out their business with him, heard from him, received from Him, talked with him.
Now not everyone might agree, and not everyone would witness my claim, but the things I felt in my spirit, and the things I saw with my eyes, and the ten plus people who approached me to tell me that something crazy good had happened to them Sunday morning, well I add all that up and that equals something I want more of.
Thin moments happen in life and thankfully I don't completely know how to repeat them, because if I did, I'd probably try to manage them for my own benefit. They are rather, gifts born out of a relationship with a deeply loving God. A God whose very make up is love.
My response is to be overwhelmed with gratitude and to ask for more for the people who need more of that thinness between them and God.
Oh yes there are thin places, but there are also thin moments.
May God bless you with many many thin moments in what may seem like a lifetime of thick slogging.