There are those times in life when you’re thrust into new spaciousness. You’re born, say, or you retire, or you go off on sick leave or move homes or lose a loved one or resign from a commitment that has been taking a great deal of time. It might have been a choice—something you were looking forward to—or it might have come uninvited; either way, the spaciousness, when it comes, may be full of delight, or it may feel a lot like emptiness. It might even feel at first like crampedness, life all packed up in moving boxes or finances tight or fear and loneliness gripping.
A newborn startles in the cold brilliance of his new spaciousness.
The Israelites accuse the God who has come to lead them into a good and spacious land of dragging them into the desert to die.
Peter lives the immense spaciousness of walking above the rules of the natural world, waves beneath his feet—for a few moments. Then all of a sudden he remembers that he’s not supposed to be able to do this. If it wasn’t for Jesus’ hand, he would have drowned in his panic.
God’s heart for his people
Most of the time when I’m afraid to give God my yes, it’s because I fear feeling trapped. I’m afraid that if I make that one big choice, He’ll take away all the rest of my choice and I’ll be stuck in a situation that I can’t handle. But my fear doesn’t reflect reality. God’s heart for His people is to bring us into a spacious place. (Ex 3:18; Ps 18:19; 31:8; 66:12)
There’s space in His love to enjoy everything except independence from God (Gen 2:16-17), space to celebrate and choose and enjoy (Deut 14:22-26), to name and to exercise authority (Gen 2:19).
There’s space for all of me, the parts that are free and the parts that are struggling.
There’s space to grieve, to laugh, to need extra help working through something; space to rest and to play as well as to work hard.
There’s space for me not to have a clue how to live what He’s calling me to live, space to ask without shame for help learning to live in this spaciousness and freedom.
And as I whisper “help me do this right” I think I hear him whisper back that just like he gave Adam free reign to name the animals and enjoyed watching to see what he came up with, there’s wide open space for me to be creative, lots of different ways to live life well. And He delights in my choosing, and in me.
“He brought me out into a s p a c i o u s place, he rescued me because he delighted in me.” (Ps 18:19)
When spaciousness feels like emptiness
And in those moments when spaciousness feels like emptiness, too wide-open and bright, then I’m learning to remember that this spaciousness isn’t empty void but is formed by and filled with Love, that unbreakable, unchangeable mystery which holds me and helps me breathe and move and live, and whose width and depth and length and height are beyond my ability either to comprehend or to escape (Eph 3:18).
The healthy newborn cries as he’s thrust into spaciousness. There’s space for his cries in this place, space for him to find his voice and become his own little person, space to weep and later to laugh with the whole-body chuckle of a baby who is discovering faces and love and the wonder of toes and puppies and the rest of the wide world around him. But first he startles at the unexpected spaciousness—and finds himself held and swaddled and coaxed closer to the warm flesh that fills his mouth and his stomach and his need for comfort. And slowly, knowing himself secure, he begins to delight in exploring spaciousness.