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.

A Runners’ Prayer

“I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast!
And when I run I feel his pleasure.” ~Eric Liddell

Christians have been slow to the game. For a group of folks who talk a lot about prayer, the statistics show they rarely practice it. When they do, it is primarily a “Hail Mary” kind of moment hoping the divine will get them out of their current jam or to meet a specific need that that lives in the land of illusivity.

Most other world religions connect prayer to some physical act be it breathing, yogic positions, stretching, or as the Hopi Indians do, running.

When you link some type of activity to prayer, you begin to focus better, notice your humanity more, and connect to God’s voice and inspiration in a fresh way. 

If you know the story of Eric Liddell, he was the main character in the classic movie “Chariots of Fire” which centered around his gold medal Olympic race that almost wasn’t.

Liddell was known for and was to compete in the 200-meter race. However, that particular race was scheduled on a Sunday. Liddell experienced a crisis of faith when he found out. His strong conviction told him that he should go to church and worship God on that day. So, he declined to run the race he had prepared for.

Can you imagine that?

Training for an Olympic event and then declining to run because it interfered with his personal priority of going to church. In a time when people decline going to church because it is raining too hard, or it’s too hot or or or….I think you get my point. Liddell decided he would run the next race which was the 400-meter.

This wasn’t his normal race, nor what he trained for, but he decided to run it, and the rest is history as they say. He won the Gold Medal. After the race he said,

“The secret of my success over the 400-m is that I run the first 200-m as fast as I can. Then, for the second 200-m, with God’s help, I run faster.”

If you haven’t seen the movie put it on your list. The story is much bigger and beautiful than I can describe, but I have always been inspired Liddells’ famous quote in the movie: 

“I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast!And when I run I feel his pleasure.” 

I believe Liddell best connected with God while running. This discipline became a deeper prayer connecting his body, soul, and spirit to God.

I have many friends who are about to undertake a beautiful goal of running a full or half marathon to raise money for World Vision to bring clean water to areas where there is none.

A physical practice to achieve spiritual and physical goals. I believe God will meet them in a special way as they train. As they run they will notice how their focus sharpens. They will begin to hone in on the immediate moment whether it is because of fatigue, burn, or hard-breath. Their inner world will calm as they better unite with their outer reality. They will also have many “God I need you now” moments too!

With the right intention, their running will become for them a deeper spiritual experience, connecting them to God in a different way while making an impact for those who have no clean water. To me that is so good.

So for my marathon friends, here is a prayer I came across written by Lewis B. Smith Jr. he called his running prayer.

This is my running prayer Lord.
I run in praise of you.
I praise you with my motion.
You sustain my breath
That I may sustain your praise.
All creation joining in
Nothing in creation is still.
My world revolves as I run across it.
The heavens move as I run below them.
Everything moves in praise.
I move as I run.
I run a trail of blessings,
Giving and receiving both.
As I run I am blessed,

With moisture in the air
To cool my straining body,
Plants and trees nourish my breath,
That I may run further.
With birdsong to cheer me on.
Joining in unending praise
With the supportive murmur,
Of the flowing creek.
With passion in my arms and legs,
With burning in my chest,
That I may know that I am alive,
To have more to praise you for.

I leave blessings in my turn.
Water for plants,
Breath for trees.
This run may end.
The prayer will not.
I may slow.
I shall praise you still.
Your praise carries me.
To the limits of my body and beyond.
Hands outstretched in praise,
I run and collect bounteous blessings,

The rhythm of the pavement sings
A percussive song of power.
Not of my might.
Not of my strength.
But of the persistence of your spirit.
A regular rhythm of irregular melody
Breath in windy counterpoint
Still I run.
Still I praise
Ever the prayer runs on.

God gave us our bodies not only to live our mission through, but to experience His presence, purpose and power through.

When we integrate all of who we are we experience God in a whole new way. Let your body, created by God, help your spiritual journey and experience the kingdom of heaven that is within you and all around you.