“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”Antoine de Saint-Exupery.
Ever since the first time I heard this quote, it struck a chord in me that triggered my imagination. It caused me to picture two scenes.
In the first scene, I see a captain assigning people orders and tasks, constantly nagging them about all that needs to be done before they’re able to sail the sea. In this scenario, I see a crew of people that are disengaged, annoyed, tired and, to use Christian lingo, “burnt out.”
In the second scene, I see a captain down on all fours talking to his gathered crew around a campfire. I see him having crazy hair and a peculiar, wild glow about him that his team can’t exactly put their finger on. I hear him telling his crew stories of what it will be like while out on the open water. He speaks from his personal experience and as he does, each man and woman find that the measly itch to travel inside themselves has become a burning fire to discover the endless ocean. Now, the members of this particular crew go to bed dreaming of the water and wake up willing and ready to do whatever it takes.
I shared this story with you to express my heart behind writing this blog. I believe the first captain is religion. For the past couple of months, I got caught up in following his way. I began climbing the ladder of work-based religion that tells us, “read one more verse and God will love you, sing another worship song and you will get there, do this and maybe God will give you the time of day.” I got exhausted. Fast. It wasn’t until I heard God say a phrase to me that woke me up to the second captain’s way. Jesus’ way. I pray God would use this phrase and my story, to open your eyes to how Jesus is talking to you. The way He is drawing you into the deep waters of His love.
“Make Room.” This is the phrase that broke through the silence. These words carried heart and weight in a way that I still can’t explain. It came with this understanding that God wanted me to make room for Him and His voice. God brought me to a passage in Exodus 33, where Moses had made a tent of meeting for Him and the LORD. Here, Moses and God would talk face to face. God spoke to me, “Moses made room.” I could see that God was inviting me into friendship. To make time and space to listen to what’s in His heart and then to express my heart back to Him. Each day was a little bit different, ranging from finding a quiet place out in nature to clearing my desk and sitting with a cup of coffee. In these spaces and in my room I began to hear His heart for me and for other people. I started to pray with more pauses, believing He’s listening and interested in what I had to say that day. Some days were silent and that became okay.
From the Secret Place to the Open Spaces
The cool thing about meeting with God in secret is that He begins to reveal Himself to us in the open. Again, this part can be hard to explain, but throughout my day whether I was eating across from somebody or listening to music or looking at a piece of art, I began to hear God speaking to me in those moments. In those times, it’s like you see a glimpse of who God is in somebody’s life. I saw Him in someone’s paint strokes and something leaps inside of you that says “I see you God,” “I found you God,” or “I hear you God.” I believe as we make time and space to meet with God, our heart becomes more and more open and aware of His presence and voice in our ordinary day-to-day life.
From making room to hear God’s voice, I have felt it directly correlates to how it’s important to make room to listen to a friend or a parent. To give your attention and an open heart. Taking time to see that someone has something on their heart, that they are grieving, or celebrating. Taking time to push aside our own agendas to give them space to share. When we do this with God and when we do this with our loved ones, intimacy happens. They share and you empathize or rejoice with them depending on what it is. Then they make space for you to share and feel with you as well. This is the friendship and relationship I believe we can have with God when we make room for Him.
Examples in Scripture
Moses and the Burning Bush, Exodus 3 | Before Moses had this beautiful encounter, you can see in verse 1 that, “he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God.” Moses making room here looked like simply showing up and being interested. We see that this moved God’s heart as it says in verse 4, “when the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!”
Jacob (Israel), Genesis 32 | Before Jacob had a messy, life-transforming wrestling match with God, it describes in verse 22 and 23, that he sent his family as well as all of his possessions across the river. Jacob making room here looked like prioritizing time with God before his family and getting away from his material belongings. (Minimalism can be a great way to make space for God!)
Finally, Jesus. Our captain. So many examples can be told of how he made room to pray during his time on Earth. Here are a few:
In Luke 5:16, He “withdraws to deserted places to pray.”
In Luke 6:12, it says “He spent the whole night in prayer,” before a big decision of choosing His disciples.
In Luke 9:18, “He prayed alone, with only His disciples near Him.” Imagine the disciples saying to each other, “Man, He loves doing this.”
Mark 1:35, He gets up “In the early morning, while it was still dark,” to go to a secluded place away from where he was staying to pray.
Are you willing to make room?
I wish I had a more practical application for you, but I believe if you make the space, find time, and quiet your heart to listen, He will meet with you. I believe with everything in me that Jesus wants to talk to you and have friendship with you. His silence is not His absence, in the silence He is waiting with an anticipation so passionate, that all of heaven is intrigued to see how He’s gonna meet with you.
He is waiting for you to call to him —-“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” (Jeremiah 33:3). He’s in the hidden places so you will look for Him —-“In Christ, are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Colossians 2:2-3). He is saying to you, “I will be found by you.” (Jeremiah 29:14) He wants you to find Him. Are you willing to make room?