As we prayer-walked around Dedworth last week as part of our response to the ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ prayer initiative, I was struck – not for the first time – by the large number of interconnecting footpaths running through our community. I really don’t think I’ve ever lived anywhere with so many hidden pathways.
It occurred to me that this could be a picture of the hidden places that we all have in our lives. Sometimes these may be achievements or positive qualities which, out of modesty, we are reluctant to draw attention to. Often, though, these hidden places are the darker places within us that we would rather not acknowledge because we are ashamed of them – secrets that we keep in the shade, for fear of being hurt or judged.
As we walked along a footpath, shaded by the houses on either side, I realised that God came to shed his light on these darkest corners of our lives, so that we can see the way forward – and that he calls his Church to join him in that work. Returning to the church to share some of our insights from prayer-walking through the community, someone else wondered how many of our family, friends and neighbours realise that we all have what we often refer to as a ‘God-shaped hole’ in us.
Drawing those two reflections together, it suddenly occurred to me that our ‘God-shaped hole’ is not some mysterious, perfect gap waiting to be filled by God. Rather, it is the messy shape of our deepest wounds; our most painful hurts; our greatest losses; our most embarrassing failings; our greatest weaknesses and our deepest needs. The apostle Paul learnt this when he brought one of his ‘dark places’ to God in prayer, and God responded by saying ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ (2 Corinthians 12:9).
This Pentecost Sunday, may God’s Holy Spirit shed his light into our darker corners, bringing the rule of his Kingdom to places that had once seemed beyond hope. May God’s grace in filling our ‘God-shaped holes’ – whatever they may be – become part of our story which in turn offers hope to friends and neighbours, as they see that the darkest corners of their lives are places that God is perfectly shaped to fill.
With my love and prayers