Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? (1 Corinthians 3:16, ESV)
A “thin place” is a place where God meets us.
I have two thin places that I use regularly – a chair in my office at home and a newer developing space in my office in Springfield, where I can sit in a chair and look out over my city.
“Thin place” or “thin space” came into Christian writings and thought through Celtic Christianity. When I talk about a “thin space,” I’m not worshipping nature – just encouraging us to develop a place of prayer, Bible reading, and meditation – a space that allows us to quickly enter God’s presence.
My wife reads the Outlander series of books, and she also watches the Outlander TV series.
The series depicts characters who travel through time by touching “sending stones.” A type of spiritual or supernatural presence in these stones allows a person with “the gift” to move through time.
I’m not talking mysticism in this blog, and the theology of Outlander (forgive the pun) is outlandish!
But all of us have experienced places in nature where we sensed God.
The first time that I walked on a beach as a child, I felt a sense of awe, and to this day, one of my favorite places of prayer and reflection is looking at the ocean. Others love mountains or idyllic country scenes.
We read from the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 3:16, “we are God’s temple, and the Spirit of God dwells in us.”
Yes, we plan retreats and walk beaches pursuing God, but we are not dependent on earthly temples or places of pilgrimage to experience His presence. Let me state emphatically, “God’s Spirit dwells within us.”
We are “thin places.”
We can, while living our lives and walking through our days, experience God’s presence.
Entering a thin space, whether in my chair, riding my bike, or walking on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean, I find three promises that become real …
First, I get peace. Peace that overwhelms anxiety.
Second, I sense God’s power. I’m small, and God is big. In a thin space, I find myself feeling like Moses on the mountain as God approaches. “Uh, oh,” I think, “all these small thoughts of anger or anxiety.” My frustrations with myself or others are getting smaller as God draws closer.
Third, I find grace and provision. Much of what I do in ministry is beyond my ability or resources. I’ve asked myself often through my years of following Jesus, “Is this my pride – this action or work that I want to do? Or is this You, God?”
James writes a few verses that help me understand my thin places. I memorized them 40 years ago and reflect on them when thinking about my being close to God.
Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you (James 4:5-8).
One of my favorite Bible teachers once defined “submitting to God” as a total ordering of everything that you do to better allow God’s presence in your life. It means discipline, confession, repentance, change, and above all, humility.
But honing our thin space of the Spirit within us – is worth it!