Ron’s comment stunned the group at a Lifetree Cafe event. After watching the filmed story of two men dealing with guilt, he asked a question.
“That story was nice. But what do you do with big guilt?” he asked. He had everyone’s attention as he painfully told his story. Ten years ago he persuaded his reluctant wife to take a walk with him. A few minutes into the walk she stepped off a curb, was hit by car and killed instantly.
“It’s all my fault,” he said. “But that’s not all. I was so absorbed in my own grief I didn’t see how my son was dealing with the loss of his mother. I just didn’t know–until I got a call from the sheriff. My son shot himself. And it’s all my fault.”
As Ron sat down, the group was breathless. Then, one by one, people got up and moved to Ron’s table. Some prayed. Some embraced Ron. Some simply stood with him in silence.
It was a sacred moment. And it was healing moment for Ron. Years of guilt began to melt as God’s people reached out to this hurting man.
No one, including Ron, saw that moment coming. It wasn’t planned or expected. But what WAS planned was “God space”–time and environment set aside for God to do something unexpected. We do this every week at Lifetree Cafe. We allow for spontaneity. We make room for the Holy Spirit to work. And it’s one of the reasons over 80 percent of the people report experiencing the presence of God every week at Lifetree Cafe.
This spontaneity thing seems to be a lost art. But Jesus was a master at it during his ministry. He frequently made use of unexpected–and highly memorable–moments. The paralytic lowered through the roof. The woman caught in adultery. The picky Pharisees on the Sabbath.
It’s time we reclaim the gift of spontaneity. The church has become all too scripted and predictable. From our liturgies to our lessons we’ve become so scheduled that we’ve squeezed out space for God to work.
We create God space when we allow time for give-and-take, for conversation, for questions, for doubts. We create God space when we build in generous spans of silence. We create God space when we engage people in experiences that provoke deep reflection, like Jesus did with the washing of his disciples’ feet.
Ron experienced God that day in Lifetree Cafe. Unexpectedly. And it changed him. He was a non-churched guy in the community who has since become a volunteer worker in his Lifetree. And he now specializes in comforting other hurting people. He learns of their needs, in quite spontaneous ways, in the God space.