During a very busy summer of ministry as the program director at Ness Lake Bible Camp, there was an electrical storm—like I had never seen before. Flashes of lightning came every 2 to 3 seconds. I didn’t even know that was possible. We had watched the storm coming over the horizon toward the camp for two hours before it finally arrived. It was at 12:10am when the lightning began to strike the camp. Several trees were hit—unravelling like a giant corkscrew had been driven through them. But the oddest thing happened. As the storm hit the camp an immense crack of thunder rattled our tiny cabin, and at that moment my co-worker, Keith and I looked at each other and quoted, in unison, Psalm 46:10: “Be still and know that I am God.” That was more than a little strange. And because it was strange, and because of the text that came to mind for both of us, it was also deeply comforting. The storm was far beyond our control. There was nothing we could do to protect the camp or campers—or ourselves.
In the middle of that furious electrical storm the word that God gave to Keith and I was simple, but perfectly timed. It was a reminder that though we were not “in control” of the storm, we could rest in the One who ultimately is the “Ruler of all nature.”1 Though this word was a comfort to us the night of the storm, as I reflect back, it was most meaningful in relation to our work at the camp. The busy schedule and the demands of our jobs were exhausting and often felt overwhelming. The words of Psalm 46:10 are a comfort, yes; but maybe even more, a challenge. “Be still?” Are you kidding me? Look at the demands of this job on my time and energy? How will I get it all done? How could I be still? If there is a theme I hear as I talk to people today it relates to this same struggle: with all the demands on my time and energy in life, where does God fit?
As the title suggests, we will explore what it means to make room in our hearts and in our lives so that we might plug-in to the Source of Life and learn to rest in him—to “be still” and know the Giver of Life. We will discuss how to make room for God to work in our lives—to shape and transform us. As we’ll see, making room is not only for our personal growth in Christ; our transformation makes us ready to participate with God in his mission; to bring healing to the whole world. Barry Jones uses the helpful metaphor of breathing to describe the life God has called us to:
There is a rhythm of life that pulses through the biblical vision of what it means to be human. A kind of breathing in and breathing out. An inhale and an exhale. The breathing in is our participation in the divine life. The breathing out, our participation in the divine mission…The breathing in we often call “spirituality.” And the breathing out we call “mission”…Spirituality and mission are intimately bound up with one another, like inhaling and exhaling. 2
My hope and prayer is that this study will open up spaces, help “clear the clutter,” so that every participant will make room in their lives to experience deeper daily connection to the only Source of true life, and experience the fullness of being with God for the sake of the world.
- To borrow the language of the hymn “Fairest Lord Jesus” by Munster Gesanbuch (16th C).
- Barry E. Jones, Dwell: Life with God for the World (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2014), 12. I am consciously borrowing a similar subtitle from Jones’ book as I could not find a better way to express the connection between spiritual formation practices and the mission God calls us to. I highly recommend reading his book, which elaborates on many of the same themes discussed more briefly here in Making Room.