The story behind “A Wide Place”


thoughts from Rachel…

We crested a highway hill somewhere in the northernmost part of Texas when the view ahead opened into endlessness.

Maybe the perspective hit me harder because I was driving. Hypersensitive nerves tightened under the liability of transporting this literal band of people packed into a Volvo with stuff and instruments stacked Jenga-style.

I was already a nervous wad of emotion.

So when we plateaued into a stretch of wide open, the view took me off guard and stole useful breath. Tears blurred as I white-knuckled the steering wheel.

How could so much expanse be real?

How could a picture you’ve long kept creased just one day unfold itself outside your imagination?

And prove itself real even after you blink the tears back?

The short answer: Grace.

Then more grace.

Still more after that.

Like a brushy, rift-ridden landscape stopped by nothing.

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard” kind of Grace (1 Cor. 2:9).

Grace leaps beyond the anticipation and the dream itself, and bares us awake to something far more glorious: the radiance of Christ.

Our Lord sets us in wide places so that we can see and hear what we couldn’t inside our outlines of linear understanding.

My own understanding? It couldn’t even grasp what the Lord wrote in this song at the time it was written. Even though I ached for freedom in fields and sky for miles, what I believed about Christ’s freedom was still confined to bounds that hurt in my heart had established.

Still, my need in the moment was no less real. I desperately wanted a wide place.

But I was desperately bound to fear:

-fear of wrong choices

-fear of leaving the house

-fear of speaking incorrectly

-fear of people

-fear of a world that breeds death

I dearly wanted to trust Jesus. But I was shedding years of distrust and disbelief at the same time:

-disbelief that Jesus is good

-disbelief that His Word is complete and True

-disbelief that He would stay

-disbelief that I was all He said I was

He never leaves us wanting, though. Because even when we don’t yet understand what He desires us to, our Lord graciously sees our wanting and fulfills it with Himself. He never forsakes a broken heart (Ps. 147:3). He desires that we know Him (Hosea 6:6).

Seeing the sky-scape scraping against red, Texas dirt, years after I’d first asked the Lord for a wide space…it outdid my knowledge of grace, because it outdid my fear and disbelief, outran my brokenness with a whole, unadulterated view.

A view of freedom. A view of what He has to offer outside the lines.

It’s better than anything we’ve seen or heard.

He’s promised so.

“In You, O Lord, I put my trust; let me never be ashamed; Deliver me in Your righteousness. Bow down Your ear to me, deliver me speedily; be my rock of refuge, a fortress of defense to save me…I will be glad and rejoice in Your mercy, for You have considered my trouble; You have known my soul in adversities, and have not shut me up into the hand of the enemy; You have set my feet in a wide place” (Ps. 31:1,2,7,8).


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