There are times in ministry when we need to find fresh places to “be”. Whether that be a new place to live and work or a place to retreat that enables new thinking, a different perspective and . . . peace! We live in such a transient world and culture, place becomes simply where we happen to be – and becomes less associated with a physical “place” (as – we have everything we need to function on our mobile devices that we carry with us everywhere . . . !)
Places can be significant for a whole variety of reasons, here are just a few that resonate with me ::
1. Something happened. I no longer associate the dentists waiting room with drills and teeth and that awful waiting to see if things need to removed or hacked away at or broken to bits in your mouth . . . you get the drift. I received a text message while in the waiting room at the dentist and that day and that time became life changing! The day, the place are etched in my being. Nothing to do with dentists – it is the power of association with that place now, “ahh, this is where i received that message.” Maybe you have places like that?
2. Decision made. Throughout scripture there are significant places where meetings have happened or something decisive has changed everything, these places are often marked as places of worship, places of remembrance – places of awe and wonder, places of “we must never forget what happened here.” Maybe you have places that you associate with making decisions, choosing something – or they are places of encounter where maybe God has made His decision known to you.
3. Vision. Sometimes i just cannot see where to go, what should happen, what is worth fighting for and what needs to be let go of – what to keep and what to release, the “where next?” or the “I must re-discover what on earth I am here for!” i need a place for vision making, vision casting . . . there is an amazing place not far from me. It is high up, a glorious vista of Sussex spreads out below – a physical and geographical vision helps me when I need to re-discover my place. Where do i fit in to the grand scheme of things. I find huge landscapes helpful – they remind me of how small i am. I am not “it”, but i can get carried away with a vision . . . (which becomes my vision) and miss the point of what I am for, and who I am serving. A big, huge, place where I can take in, drink in an awe inspiring view reminds me that i get to play a part, yes, but it is small. Something about the air and the sky in a place that is wide open too helps me settle into “vision thinking” mode. More just seems possible. Someone once said,
dreams + reality = vision
I can dream big dreams in a big place. The reality bit is – the world is big, I am small. But, God has done much in the past with small people . . . so i dream BIG!
Linked with this finding or being in a new “place” to encourage fresh thinking is actually having the space. No demands, no blaring phones, no pinging messages, no open plan office, nobody standing at your right shoulder peering over you wondering what you are working on . . . space to think, space to be with my thoughts, with my God and – thats it. I get energised when i am around people and can bounce ideas off others, but i can also get frenetic and frantic, TOO much zipping around in my brain . . . too many ideas, and colliding thoughts. I can then leap from one thing, to another thing, to yet another thing . . . leaving half of what is behind me undone or not finished or i forget why i started something in the first place and move on to something else . . . to be a little bit more measured i need SPACE.
The picture that comes with this blog post is a place fairly recently found that is also going to double up as space. When i have walked through this wood, open to the public, i have been amazed at how few other people are doing the same. I can sit on a log for ages, and i could be in the wilderness. It is beautiful, with the tallest tree in Sussex, winding paths, mossy caves that look like hobbit dwellings, carvings on fallen logs, even a yellow brick road (i kid you not) . . . a place of adventure, a place to catch a vision, a place to “be still and know” and a space to catch up with myself. Pause and think.
Place and space, so important – obviously, we can’t stay there – we come back to where we work, where we live, where we interact with this crazy world, but – prayerfully and hopefully – with a bit more perspective and calm and with a little bit more of a sense of what we are doing and why. Jesus drew Himself aside to spend time with the Father, and i can imagine He might have had places that were precious to Him and space to dream and see all that God was doing and would do . . . I am sure Jesus would have drawn on what he learnt in these places and spaces as He poured Himself out for those around Him, healing, blessing, encouraging, leading, nurturing, comforting and – ultimately, as he poured himself out for all of us.
Place and Space – essential for life and ministry.