Finding Your Thin Place
Recently, I listened to the worship team sing the hymn "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus." I don't know about you, but I get all the feels singing that song. It's the combination of nostalgia from prior days walking with Jesus, and the lyrics anchored in truths that have helped the Church endure, plus the history behind this song that has stood the test of time.
The invitation to “Turn your eyes upon Jesus/Look full in His wonderful face” is what my soul is longing for, but honestly, what does that even mean? How can I look at the face of God when essentially everything around me demands my attention? If it’s not family, work or school, I’m left with my scattered brain that is constantly distracting me into exhaustion. Tell me I’m not the only one!
There is a Celtic Christian term, dating back centuries ago, that refers to something called “thin places.” One definition describes thin places as "those rare locales where the distance between Heaven and Earth collapses."
In a thin place, the veil between heaven and earth becomes transparent and there is a peace and presence from God that is almost tangible. It is like what Jacob describes in Genesis: "Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was unaware of it...How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven!" (Genesis 28:16)
Thin places are not just physical locations; they are also mindful, unhurried, unencumbered, agenda-free moments where we catch a glimpse of God's heavenly realm. There, we experience the presence of God and cultivate the transformation we desire. This is what I think it means to gaze fully into the face of Jesus.
I wish I could give you permission to drop all your responsibilities and travel to an ideal thin place: a tropical beach, the Rocky Mountains, a cozy cabin in the woods, or any other place where your senses would be flooded with heavenly awe and wonder. But we don’t need a postcard setting to experience the nearness of God.
Thin places can be found in our ordinary and mundane lives.
Yes, surprisingly thin places can exist in suburban North Texas. Yes, thin places can exist in a car full of screaming children. Yes, thin places can exist in a house full of dirty laundry and coffee-stained rugs. We don't need to make a pilgrimage (though if you can, go!) to find our thin places. Rather, we can enter in to them in our day-to-day lives.
I have two consistent thin places. One is in the car. I have some great dashboard confessionals with God there. Other times I drive in complete silence, simply being mindful of God's presence. The second thin place is my bedtime routine with my daughter. She falls asleep knowing full well that she is secure in the presence of her father.
For other people, a thin place can be found in folding laundry, weightlifting at the gym, gardening, making a pour-over, doing the dishes, taking an early morning stroll, settling into a specific couch or reading chair, and so on.
So I have a challenge for you: Find, create, and cultivate your thin place for this coming year. And as you spend consistent time there, take note of how the “things of this world will grow strangely dim.” Experience less anxiety, anger, frustration over things you hear or read. Enjoy a greater sense of gratitude and contentment with what you have as you realize that you really don't have to look like your Pinterest board. Recognize the increase of margin in every aspect of your life. Notice the transforming work God is doing in you. You are essentially bringing heaven down to earth. You are becoming more like Christ.
"For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 4:15-16)