A Spacious Place

From wherever you might stick your “I am here” pin in the world map I have thumbtacked on my wall, have you felt trapped there? Fearful? Unsettled and restless this past year?

I have too.

Our collective souls feel weary from lugging around the weight of these feelings, like heavy suitcases we haven’t been able to hand off at the airport check-in counter. 

Sheltering in place has sucked much away. Confined us. Limited our lives to the space between four walls. Where the very air we breathe has possibly grown stale. And we’re longing for escape. 

To a spacious place.

In a recent live interview from his orbit a full 400 kilometers away from earth, astronaut Mike Hopkins said that being enclosed in the International Space Station these past four months has shrunk his world down to a much smaller space. But at the same time, he has been connected to the vastness of our universe as never before. On the occasions when he can leave the station for a space walk, there are breathtaking sights to see—a view most of us will never get to witness firsthand.

And yet, we can experience a similar change in perspective. 

Last year in his battle with brain cancer, my 14-year-old son finished his 4th round of chemo on Good Friday, and then underwent four weeks of radiation treatment. He had to lie perfectly still and was confined by a tight fitting helmet/mask that clipped on to the radiation table, so that the proton beams would go to exactly the right places in his brain and spine. 

Ahead of time, he had chosen ten of his favorite worship songs for his playlist. As the technicians prepped the equipment to his unique specifications, they also turned up his music so that it filled the radiation room with a reminder of God’s presence. One time specifically I remember tears filling my eyes as the words from Waymaker by Leeland welcomed us into the room:

You are here
Moving in our midst
I worship You
I worship You

You are here
Working in this place
I worship You
I worship You

I ached that the space forced on my son was so claustrophobically small, and I grieved over the damage radiation would do as it accomplished its “good work” of killing any cancer cells that chemo had left behind. But in that space I would not have chosen for him, he was held by God and connected with His vastness and His goodness through the music that reached his ears and brought comfort to his heart.

We stayed at the Ronald McDonald House in Chicago for those four weeks, and in that beautiful space we experienced an unexpected connection with the families who had stayed in our room and left us messages of hope in the guest book:

“I just want you to know that whatever you and your family are going through you will get through it and conquer.”

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” Winston Churchill

“There are lots of ups and downs and bumps. Celebrate all the ups and cherish them during the down times. You will make it. You are strong and you can do it! Have faith!”

“He is walking beside us in the garden and through the storm. Each moment step by step, cry out and have faith. He is strengthening you through this journey we’ve been given.”

My favorite Bible verse: 1 Peter 5:10:
“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast.” (From a 15-year-old with a brain tumor)

“The best way to show gratitude is to accept everything, even my problems, with joy.” Sister Mother Theresa (from a 10-year-old with a brain tumor)

“May the peace of God find you as you stay in this room.”

“Only when it’s dark enough can you see the stars.” Martin Luther King Jr.

“Keep believing! God has your back!”

“Whoever u are reading this know that we had a time when No Light Shined in the Tunnel at the other side but with belief of God and trusting Him things will fall into place. I am seeing it visually with my own eyes.”

Amen. 

In Psalm 18, after God rescued him from the hand of Saul and other enemies, David recorded: “He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the Lord was my support. He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.” (v. 16-19) 

Drawn out and rescued. Delighted in. Brought out of the darkness into a spacious place.

May it be so for each one of us.

How has God held and comforted you during this time of confinement? In what ways have you experienced His bringing you out into a spacious place?

***Be sure to register for the Invited Retreat, and set aside the time and place where you can retreat, reflect, release, and receive all that God has for you in this season.***

Photo by Wil Stewart on Unsplash

2 Comments

  1. Phyllis April 16, 2021

    Thank you! I have connected with your writing before, when you have mentioned your son’s cancer journey. It’s been almost a year since I fought my way back from Stage 4. My very favourite verse is your title here: Psalm 31:8. I think I have to take that spacious place entirely by faith. Our home is so small and our kids have gotten so big. Many nights lately I’ve even dreamed crowded dreams. But my mind and soul try to be in that spacious place.

    1. Jodie April 16, 2021

      Phyllis, it’s so encouraging to hear from you again as a fellow cancer warrior. Your words are a real blessing to me today. Psalm 31:8 is so hopeful and uplifting. I love the graphic that was designed to go with that verse for this post. Prayers for you and your family in your space, both physically and spiritually.

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