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How ' Or Why ' Do You Make Space for God?
Sunday, August 1, 2004

MY FRIENDS smother a chuckle when I tell them I’m sure God is a golfer.

Sunrise over FijiChristopher Mayor, Australia: MY FRIENDS smother a chuckle when I tell them I’m sure God is a golfer. Otherwise I would not feel he is with me on the golf course so often: even when I miss a simple putt! My mother was a professional actress who established her own theatre in Sydney. Seventy years ago, she met the Oxford Group (now Initiatives of Change) in Australia. She learnt that if you listened sincerely God would speak in your heart and show you your part in helping ‘Thy kingdom come’. It led to a remade marriage. Mother made sure that we were all baptized— brother, sister and me. Slowly, she taught us to take time in quiet to ‘listen’. In my early teens I had rheumatic fever. The specialist said I would be handicapped for life with a weak heart. One day I read the words from Ezekiel 36: ‘I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you... and move you to follow my decrees.’ There and then, without weighing what it really meant, I made a contract with God to follow him. Over 60 years later I feel fit and fulfilled. My wife Janet and I take time each morning on waking to pray and listen for direction from the God who has led us so wonderfully all these years in fair weather and foul. I also commune with him as I trudge the fairways—in fair weather and foul.

Monica Spooner, Edinburgh: I AM A BUSY woman—even though I retired from medicine nine years ago. I joined committees and charities—didn’t want to be idle, You know. I’m a mother of three! Well OK, they are all in their thirties, but I still have to phone and email them to make sure they are alright. I’m a grandmother of two tiny girls, and so proud! Does that take time? Well, not much now that they are living in Japan. I’m a busy housewife—doing things for You! And a gardener! I’m proud of the Latin names I can remember, and appalled at all those I forget. I’m so busy—but I would like to have time for You, God. Are You asking something more of me? What about my neighbours? But if I don’t agree with what they are doing, why should I spend love on them? Haven’t You changed the subject, God? I was talking about ‘time’ and now You are talking about ‘love’? Something deep inside me craves that Still Small Voice, that Love that casts out fear, the Counsellor that will be with me for ever. Dear God—tonight, after everyone else has gone to bed, I give You myself. This is my private time with You. Nothing can replace my private times with You!

Ruth Knox: I BORROWED a book by the Rev Cecil Rose from a caring doctor at the cancer hospital where I worked. I read, ‘When man listens, God speaks; when man obeys, God acts; when men change, nations change.’ I believed that, so tried listening—with great effect. One day I was looking through case notes of patients with leukaemia (in the days when none was cured). I thought, ‘What’s the use?’ There was a Bible in the research lab. I opened it and saw the story of Mary washing Jesus’s feet with precious ointment. Turning the pages, the Bible opened at the same story elsewhere. Jesus commended Mary just because she loved. I saw that was all that I had to do, love my patients. God heals. Listening to God shows me how to love people. When I was in hospital on night duty it was at 5.30 am. When the children were small it was while feeding the baby before work, while my husband gave the others their breakfast. Otherwise, we listened together. Now, aged 89, each day is an adventure to fill with worthwhile things.

John Williams, Melbourne, Australia: IN 1950, as an impressionable 15year-old, I got to know a visiting Gilbert and Sullivan star. God might be trying to tell me something, he said with a cheeky grin. I replied politely, but such subjects, I felt, belonged with higher philosophy. I seldom darkened a church door, and the very idea of ‘making space for God’ made me run a mile. Yet the idea of searching deeper soon became a natural part of life; I still don’t quite know why. But in several decades working among people of a wide range of cultures, I’ve realized a simple fact: when we are alert to what might be happening in God’s space, differences dissolve and perspectives become creative. Last year I was told I had Alzheimer’s disease, which so far is incurable and destroys your individuality. A very scary experience. Despite this, God’s space—when I seek it—seems exactly the same as ever: a place of crystal clarity.

Janet Mace, London: NEWS OF PAIN, tragedy and heartbreak reaches us every day. For millions, life is a struggle. Every day, in matters large and small, it becomes clearer that human wisdom has failed. Believing that our Creator who made the world has the wisdom and power to make that world work, I long to understand how we can access his wisdom and power. Many years of experimenting and observation of other people have shown me that when we make space for God, he does reach into our hearts with those blessings, and with the consequent gift of a transformation in human nature which can make our longings come true. The space we make can be used for praying, for reading and learning from the wisdom of the centuries, and for listening to the Voice which speaks in the silence. One far-seer had the vision of 100,000,000 listening—making space for God. I believe this could lead to fresh hope for the world. Exploration in the realm of the spiritual may be the next hurdle for those of every faith tradition and those of no faith.