Wailing-Wall

There are times when God’s presence feels so palpable that it seems like the veil separating us from Him is paper thin. For just a moment, heaven and earth seem especially close together and God’s presence is so real and so powerful that your mind and heart are unmistakably in the presence the Holy God. I absolutely believe that God’s Spirit is always with us, but I also recognize that there are moments when his presence and glory are evident and compelling.

I first heard the phrase “thin places” in college when my British history class studied the early Celts who used it to describe the moments when the world and God seem very close together. I didn’t have enough life experience to really understand the significance of this concept then. But when my pastor mentioned them in a sermon a couple of weeks ago, I began to consider the rare moments in my life when God gave me a “peek behind the veil” into the holiness of his presence.

Thin places are unpredictable in timing and location. Moses had one at a burning bush in the wilderness. Peter, James and John had one at the Transfiguration. Paul had one walking down the road to Damascus. But usually they are not as dramatic as that. Many have experienced a thin place at the bedside of a dying loved one or in the face of a new baby. They can happen in the quiet of a church sanctuary or in nature where God’s grandeur and attention to detail are overwhelming.

They don’t necessarily occur in a place that the world regards as sacred…God’s presence makes any place holy. And when we have that up close glimpse of God, we are changed. Our thin place may give us better perspective on our earthly circumstances, it may give us a clearer vision of God’s character and power, or it may make us more homesick for the place God has prepared for us in heaven. It may remind us how precious we are to God, or remind us how precious God is to us. Those moments may thrill you with his glory or allow you to receive just enough of his peace to sustain you through a crisis.

Before I went to Israel, I read about a “thin place” that is important to God. Solomon built a grand temple for God to replace the Tabernacle tent they used in the desert. After Solomon dedicated it to God, listen to what God said about it:

II Chron 7:15-16  Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there.

 When I visited the Wailing Wall, the only part of the original Temple still there, I was excited to see and touch those ancient stones. I carefully wrote out prayers that I wanted to tuck into the stones. I don’t believe that the prayers in the stones matter any more to God than the prayers offered elsewhere, but I felt compelled to put the desires of my heart into the stones of a place that was precious to his heart. I was utterly unprepared for the power of that place. It was a life changing thin place where I experienced His holiness, His timelessness, and His power. I didn’t feel fear; I felt utterly, completely loved. Words can’t recapture it; tears still come when I remember it. God wants us to know Him, to be in relationship with Him. And every once in a holy while, he meets us at a thin place to give us a foretaste of what he’s planned for our eternity. How unspeakably grateful I am that my God is always present, and that sometimes I get a better view of Him from a thin place.

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