“I was reading in Colossians this morning, that Christ is through all and in all. He is pervasive.” Matt Ham shared that with me this morning. If you don’t know him, you should. He’s a wise one, a friend and brother figure who continually encourages me to embrace the richness of who God has designed me to be.
Scottish lore is that there are only three feet separating heaven and earth – but there are places we find where the distance is even closer. “Thin places,” they are called, where we can feel the breath of heaven gently caressing our hair with the tenderness of a mother’s hand.
I’ve stepped into those thin places before. On the morning of March 15, 2000, after receiving a call that my mom was mere hours from death, I rushed into the bathroom to brush my teeth and change clothes so I could get to the hospital. Only moments later, the phone rang again. “She’s gone, sweetie,” my mother-in-law said. “She opened her eyes wide, looked up and smiled, and breathed her last. She saw something beautiful.” I knew what she had seen, because I could feel its presence as my feet began to move in rhythm on the cool tile floor. “You’re there, Mom!” I cried out. “I see you THERE – and yet so close to me right now. I wish I could simply cut through the veil because heaven is right here next to me.”
I danced in the thin places that morning.
I’ve felt the thin places in the Yorkshire Dales of England, in special needs orphanages in Russia and in Scottish cemeteries, in a fly-infested ravine in Guatemala, and while staring at the stars that drip from the dark night sky on the lake near my home. Heaven and earth holding each other, tending to each other, reminding each other of eternity.
Christ in all and through all. Jesus, who is here without exception, whether or not we believe. This morning, Matt’s encouragement through scripture reminded me that Jesus steps into the very space He Himself has created on this earth to make it thin, to make it holy, make it worthy of life. He is without segregation. As Matt says, “The present is the moment where time touches eternity.”
I think about the friends who helped the paralyzed man get to Jesus. Unable to get through a door because of the crowds, they maneuvered precarious steps and dug through the roof. They scratched through mud and muck, exposing shadow to light, carrying the burden of brokenness with them and then laying it at the feet of the One they knew would restore and redeem.
No walls could separate heaven and earth on that day.
Jesus holds out His hand to us and invites us to become the thin places – heaven and earth in flesh and blood, conduits of hope and grace and mercy and love. I want to embrace that invitation, to not allow myself to build walls that divide dirt and divinity, that relegate heaven to other seasons or ministry to well-orchestrated moments. I don’t know what those walls might look like in your life. For me, they are stones of doubt, anxiety, comparison, and fear that I continue to let stay on the path of faith.
Jesus is holding out His hand on the path to brace me as I move the stones. And in this Lenten season, I am being reminded of four words that help keep places thin.
Take. Break. Bless, Give.
When Jesus fed thousands. When He hosted a powerful night with His closest friends. When He carried the very cross He would then be nailed to in the perfect offering of love for both those who held the hammers and the burial cloth.
Take. Break. Bless. Give.
Jesus took the ordinary, the common, the earthly. He broke it apart, shattered it, watched the blood pour and the crumbs fall. He lifted the brokenness up and transformed earthly into heavenly. He gave the thin spaces to us so what we might be changed.
Yes, I have felt the thin places in so many places. It’s time to accept the invitation and become thin. Heaven and earth in flesh and blood.
Will you walk with me?
Tomorrow, I’ll share what the Lenten season will look like for me. 40 days of yielding up the things I cling to so tightly so that my hands and heart are free to receive from the God who greatly loves me. If you’d like to get the details in advance, send a message to me in the comments or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.