Seven years ago, I clenched my sister’s hand as we flanked my grandpa’s hospital bed, my parents mirroring our posture on the other side. Moments before, the four of us stood in the cold, sterile hallway as nurses transitioned the room to comfort care, and the doctor told us grandpa might go quickly.

There’s nothing you can do to prepare for this moment. “I don’t want to do this,” my sister sobbed. But we had to. This was our time to say goodbye. With a collective inhale, drawing in as much strength as we could muster, we stepped into the room and took our places around grandpa’s bed.

Through tear-filled eyes and shaky voices we told him how much we loved him, reminded him we were there with him, and my sweet little mama leaned over and told her daddy that he was about to meet Jesus.

As my grandpa strained to breathe we did the only thing that felt right in that moment, we sang beside him. Without conversation we flowed from one worship song to another, harmonizing as best as our sorrow would allow, until we came to what we now know to be our last song.

In the same way tension feels tangible, as if you could cut through it with a knife, the Lord’s presence pierced through the air as grandpa took his last breath. In this excruciating yet delicate moment, His peace in our pain was so palpable it felt like if we simply looked up, we might peer through an opening in the atmosphere and see Jesus sitting on the throne.

This is what ancient Celts refer to as a “thin place.” A place, or a moment, where the distance between heaven and earth feels minuscule; a mere breath apart.

As I was reminded of this phenomenon in a book I was reading recently, I scanned through my memory and recognized that this moment by my grandfather’s bed isn’t the only time I have experienced thin places. And I thought, what if this current season is a thin place?

The past year wrestling with the COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging. As someone who struggles with anxiety, the unknowns of the virus and fear-filled what-ifs have crippled me at times. Pair anxiety and panic attacks with a flare up of chronic pain at the beginning of the pandemic, and it’s fair to say that many of my waking hours those first few months were spent in lament. Desperate for relief, I’d cry out to the Lord in frustration and curl up on the floor in defeat when rescue didn’t come.

I would never choose to go back and relive the heaviness that saturated those moments; yet, it’s in those periods of anguish that I can pinpoint several specific times where the Lord’s presence blanketed me and I heard Him whisper over me. I know you are afraid. I am with you. I will heal you.

Have you ever experienced a thin place like this? A moment where the Spirit of God felt so close you could hear His whisper and see His hand in motion clearer than ever before?

Maybe it was a moment of clarity where you received a very specific answer to prayer. Maybe it was a breathtaking view of the ocean as you stood on the edge of a cliff, the grandeur of the Lord’s creation as unmistakable as the wind blowing through your hair. Or maybe like me, it was in the moment you lost a loved one; you expected to experience only pain, but were met with the Lord’s peaceful presence right there by your side.

It may be easier to recognize thin place moments in monumental events like weddings, deaths, the birth of a child, or an epic array of the Lord’s creation, but I wonder – what if the Spirit of God drenches every breath, heartbeat, and conversation much more than we take note of?

This year will forever be marked as the year of many things: Covid-19, conversations about racial injustice, and a tense election, to name a few. But louder than these pieces of history, my prayer is that it might be the year we hear the Lord speaking clearer than ever before.

In the current state of our world, it is easy to be engrossed by all the unknowns, fears, and frustrations. But friends, let’s not miss out on what the Lord might be telling us in this season.

Let’s lean into Him, fix our eyes on our Savior, and listen ever so tenderly for His voice.

Mindy Larsen

Mindy Larsen is a writer who will leave you encouraged and affirmed as she shifts your focus to Christ and helps you find peace amidst anxiety. You can find her vulnerable, hope-filled words in publications like Grit & Virtue, (in)courage, The Kindred Voice, and on her personal blog.

Mindy lives with her husband Chris, and their cat, Finn, in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin.

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