Room 712

Thin spaces and Divine wrestling matches

Last week I was doing some work at my Planet Changer Uganda office located in Seeta, just outside the capital of Kampala. I knew it was going to be a busy week as I was picking up supplies with our Uganda director Moses and his wife Bena.

We needed bunk beds, mattresses, sheets, chairs and a handful of other supplies to get the rooms at the office ready for a team from SVA Church. They will be coming in January to help with water testing, GPS tagging of completed water systems and conduct community health and sanitation surveys.

As there was not a bed for me yet, I stayed at a nearby hotel, this would be my basecamp for accomplishing the long to-do list. While I was looking forward to some alone time with God while savoring some amazing Ugandan tea in the mornings, my experience ran on the twin rails of beauty and struggle.

Behind the door of room 712 I passed into a divine portal where I was about to wrestle everyday for a week.

While no place is truly holier than another, as God is found everywhere and within you, during my prayer, meditation and sleep time I entered into a thin space. A thin space is the Celtic way of expressing that you have experienced the presence of God in such a real and intimate way that the veil between the here-and-now and the presence of God is as thin as translucent paper. Room 712 became for me a Jabbok river of sorts confronting my greater and lesser angels.

In the morning, while I read, prayed and meditated, God’s presence was so tangible my entire body was humming with the energy of creation.

It was amazing…
A place I didn’t want to leave…
Like Peter, I said, “Let’s build three shelters and stay here!” when he experienced the transfiguration of Jesus right before his eyes.

I felt as if I might float away, I even checked once or twice to make sure I was still sitting in my chair! I wondered if I might float right into His throne room on the waves of His love and light.

However, while I slept, we wrestled for control of things I felt I might lose, things I might gain. My mind wouldn’t settle, I felt the weight of my thoughts on my chest like a cement blanket.

Was I jacob at the Jabbok river wrestling with the man who was really God? Would I cling until He blessed me? Who was I, and why did the night spaces become an MMA ring? Was I jacob or Monty or pastor or activist or or or. If I follow His lead and surrender all, who will I become? Will I like me? Will others like me?

While my mind worked to control scenario after scenario crashing through my mind, in the tumultuous silence I finally heard what my soul needed most: “I love you, You are mine.”

And that is exactly what I needed to hear.

For Love In A Time of Conflict

The dance of this blessing by John O’Donohue captured me. I have read it over and over again like a person dying of thirst in a hot desert. It is simple yet deep. True yet elusive. Hopeful yet hard.

Conflict visits all of us like that annoying relative that shows up unannounced at the worst possible time. When we experience conflict, tension or misunderstandings with someone we love or simply know, the weight of the tension rests on our chest like wet blanket smothering the fire within. If the devastated relational-road seems impassable, it sucks a large percentage of our brain space, depleting our emotions and disrupting every life rhythm we have.

When no one is willing to move towards love what do you do?

When both sides cling to their truth what beauty can come of it?

When positions are entrenched like rebar in concrete what devastation will inevitably come?

This blessing offers a hard yet possible path back to love.

For Love In A Time Of Conflict
John O’Donohue

When the gentleness between you hardens
And you fall out of your belonging with each other,
May the depths you have reached hold you still.

When no true word can be said, or heard,
And you mirror each other in the script of hurt,
When even the silence has become raw and torn,
May you hear again an echo of your first music.

When the weave of affection starts to unravel
And anger begins to sear the ground between you,
Before this weather of grief invites
The black seed of bitterness to find root,
May your souls come to kiss.

Now is the time for one of you to be gracious,
To allow a kindness beyond thought and hurt,
Reach out with sure hands
To take the chalice of your love,
And carry it carefully through this echoless was
Until this winter pilgrimage leads you
Toward the gateway to spring.

Longing & Blessing

Longing is a powerful word. As I speak it in my mind I feel a stir in my heart. It’s akin to “I want” or “I desire” but in a much more wistful way. In some sense there is a longing for something lost as well as something hoped for and even something that is beyond reach. This creates the sensation and the tension.

I have found that longings and desires have a better chance of manifesting if I live into my longings from a position of trust, gratitude and blessing.

Living a life centered on blessing others and blessing the spaces you find yourself in is a gateway into a beautiful life where longing and desire don’t rule you, but are intimate friends along the journey. They know you by name and love you as you are.

This morning as I pull aside and was meditating, my focus was on the following ‘Blessing for Longing’ by John O’Donohue found in his book, “To bless the space between us.”
I love the last line “May you know the urgency with which God longs for you.”
So,

Pause…
Breathe…
Read…
Meditate…
Enter in…

________________________________________________________________

Blessed be the longing that brought you here
And quickens your soul with wonder.

May you have the courage to listen to the voice of desire
That disturbs you when you have settled for something safe.

May you have the wisdom to enter generously into your own unease
To discover the new direction your longing wants you to take.

May the forms of your belonging–in love, creativity and friendship–
Be equal to the grandeur nd the call of your soul.

May the one you long for long for you.

May your dreams gradually reveal the destination of your desire.

May a secret Providence guide your thought and nurture your feeling.

May your mind inhabit your life with the sureness with which your body inhabits the world.

May your heart never be haunted by ghost-structures of old damage.

May you come to accept your longing as divine urgency.

May you know the urgency with which God longs for you.

~John O’Donohue, To Bless the Space Between Us

Did God Break His Own Rules About Women In The Tanakh? (Old Testament)

“When a woman was the right person for the job, whether it was leading in worship, prophesying, exhorting, saving a nation from genocide, or leading soldiers into battle, God didn’t hesitate to use her. And the results were impressive.” ~Ruth Haley Barton

If God is against women in leadership (as some people think) then He has some “splainin'” to do! In this podcast episode, we discuss some of the women that God raised up to lead as read in the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible aka the Old Testament). Miriam, Deborah, Jael, a mystery woman, Esther and the prophet Huldah.

Even though the Bible is written within a patriarchal worldview, God was able to work within our less than perfect ideals and plant an idea for something better, and He is still doing that today!

God raised up and installed some amazing women to lead His people, both men, and women, which leaves us with a decision to make, Either He is breaking His own rules about women in leadership, or those are the rules of a patriarchal system and He is trying to lead us out of that to something better!

While there are many books and vast amounts of scholarship on this topic, one very readable and approachable book you might want to pick up is called “How I Changed My Mind About Women In Leadership” (Alan Johnson General Editor)

This is a compelling collection of stories from some prominent Evangelical leaders.

Also here is a link to an article written by @rachelheldevans (Rachel Held Evans) that is a good overview as well:

https://rachelheldevans.com/blog/mutuality-women-leaders

I hope you enjoy the journey, and remember to empower the women in your life!