Intimacy and EternityThe Broad Open Spaces
Part One: The River of Delights
The Pace of Life
Towards a Life of Reflection
The Trysting Place
Part Two: The Ascent of Toil
The Dark Night of the Soul
The Principle of Suffer-Reign
The Grace of Yielding
The Broad Open Spaces
By the River of Delights we had basked in the Lord’s presence. On the Ascent of Toil our willingness to continue with our walk had been put to the test. When we finally reached the top of our own Lakeland climb we were rewarded by stunning panoramas and the invigorating headiness of fresh mountain air. We had reached the Broad Open Spaces.
Resting on the summit in the warm sunshine, I had a ‘mountain-top experience’. The peace of the Lord wrapped me in His presence, and He encouraged me not to be afraid to go further along the path of contemplation. It was a powerful confirmation of a process that had been under way for some time. Far from contradicting my earlier ministry, either as an evangelist or in taking the word of the Lord to the Body of Christ, it simply added a rich new dimension.
On the Broad Open Spaces the Lord honours the refining He has accomplished at an earlier stage of our pilgrimage. We look back and marvel at the ways by which the Lord has led us, and we feel ready to bear greater burdens and to embark on fresh ventures for the Kingdom.
The Broad Open Spaces are a season of great opportunity, but they are also full of potential snares. Just as tufts of grass conceal marshy bogs and ensnare careless walkers on the fell tops, so too in the spiritual realm, we must be careful to keep up our guard, lest pride and complacency creep back in. It takes special grace to exercise spiritual power without it going to our head.
In this final section, each chapter develops themes we have touched on earlier. ‘The Pace of Life’ introduced us to the concept of waiting on the Lord; ‘Whispers of His Love’ and ‘The Paths of Guidance’ will focus on how we can discern the Lord’s leading more clearly. ‘Exploring Silence’ prepared us to be able to undertake ‘The Art of Burden-Bearing’.
In the Broad Open Spaces, prayer flows freely because our spirits are in tune with the Father’s heart. Like a windmill whose sails begin to turn with the first breath of wind, so our spirits are sensitive to the Lord’s prompting to pray for matters far and near.
‘Towards a ‘Life of Reflection’ likewise prepared us for the final chapter ‘Towards Eternity,’ which brings our thinking about intimacy with the Lord to a climax and conclusion.