Spacious Places

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As I sit here writing this post (which is incredibly overdue seeing as I can apparently only write about one post enough- I’m learning, people) tears are literally falling down my cheeks. But they’re not tears of sadness. They’re tears overflowing because of the thankfulness in my heart.

I’ve been home from school for almost a month. It’s been a month that’s flow by (largely due to the fact that for most of it I was on the other side of the world in Cape Town, South Africa), and such a month of blessing. As I put my clothes back in my closet and returned my 90 (not kidding) books to the overgrowing pile on my bedroom floor, tears were flowing for the opposite reason. I was tired. Wound up tight like a spool of thin wire; tangled, needing to be undone and smoothed out. I had given this year my all, and I felt like I had lost. I wrote in my prayer journal that I felt like a soldier who had stepped on a landmine, tattered, just barely alive, being carried back to a safer place. And it really tainted my image of what life was like in Knoxville. I couldn’t wait to return after freshman year, but the first few days after returning home, my desire to return to “my favorite place on earth” was a best wary, and practically non-existent.

But the sweetest thing happened to me in my last few days of sophomore year. See, I had been reading through the Old Testament (crazy right? But it’s actually so good. I can’t get enough.) and was reading Genesis 26 and a part of this chapter kept pulling me back, making me read it again and again.

Starting in verse 19: “Isaac’s servants dug in the valley and discovered a well of fresh water there.But the herders of Gerar quarreled with those of Isaac and said, “The water is ours!” So he named the well Esek,because they disputed with him.Then they dug another well, but they quarreled over that one also; so he named it Sitnah.He moved on from there and dug another well, and no one quarreled over it. He named it Rehoboth,saying, “Now the Lord has given us room and we will flourish in the land.

And what was so sweet was that as I read this passage, I felt God speaking to my heart. See, especially in the old testament, God’s people would give names to important moments. In this passage alone, Isaac names three wells: dispute, opposition, and room. Room. Whew, let that word sit for a second. It’s something we all crave, the space to breathe and come alive. And as I read this passage on my tiny twin bed in a room that I shared with my dear friend, in a house of fifty, on a campus of twent-something thousand, in a crowded city. My heart was yearning for room. And I felt the Lord say this to me, so strongly that I wrote it down: “It’s okay for seasons to be marked by bitterness. It’s okay for seasons to be marked by sadness or longing or hardship. It’s okay to name those seasons honestly, as they are. But bitterness, sadness, longing, and hardship are not the names of every season!” And then this passage in Psalm 18:16-19 came to mind.

“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.”

Friends, the Lord longs to be gracious to us (see Isaiah 30:18). He longs to rescue us out of our brokenness. And instead of dusting us off and throwing us right back in, he brings us out into spacious places. Places where we have room to breathe, room to listen, room to come alive. God gave room to Isaac for his people to flourish in the land, and he longs to do the same for us.

And this is the promise I’m clinging to. Because I need it. Because I’m already experiencing it. Starting now, the next two months are completely free, filled with many pockets of quiet time, to rest, to listen, to breathe, to be. I feel like it’s God’s gift to me, like He’s literally giving me the room to be restored. And for that my heart is full and thankful.

But the good news is, this promise isn’t just for me. It’s for you too! We’re all in different seasons. We’re all tired at certain points. We’re all dealing with our brokenness. But God’s promises are for broken people. We were made to be restored and refreshed only through him. And so my prayer for you and for myself is that we will be people who make room for spacious places. That we would be people who choose to rest, who choose to listen, whose hearts are quick to turn back to Jesus. And through this space, through the healing, I pray that our hearts would be even more softened, even more receptive to the truths Jesus longs to speak to us.

It’s time to come alive my friends.

Resting, listening, waiting.

I’m ready.