A Spacious Place

Photo by A J Leon, Creative Commons licence


We took the job without having seen the house that came with it. It was the right church, with the right people, and we sensed God drawing us there.
At the time, we were living in a large curate’s house, and I was convinced that any other house would be inferior. But we took the job anyway, because how can you possibly make a ministry or vocational decision based on the house?
I loudly declared that I didn’t mind having a less good house to live in because those things didn’t matter. This was somewhat embarrassing when I actually moved in and discovered quite how beautiful and big our new house was.
The ceilings are so high they have picture railings, and the windows are plentiful and large; the rooms are roomy. Light bounces off the walls. We have a garden with springy grass and an apple tree which reminds us of seasons and harvest and just how important a good crop is to most farmers in the world.
I didn’t think the bricks and mortar, land, light, space, was important. But as soon as we moved into that house I wound up housebound with severe M.E.
Being housebound is hard, no matter where you are. But as prisons go, this has been a beautiful one, and a place of refuge. I have what Virginia Woolf would describe as ‘a room of one’s own’ – somewhere to create art without having to live in noisy, damp, dark or cramped conditions.
As a teenager, I used to think that Christians who cared about the kind of home they lived in or where they lived were shallow materialists. Surely the Lord is our dwelling place, and we should be happy wherever we are?
Evangelical theology often follows Ancient Greek thought in emphasising spiritual matters as more important than body, space, land. But the Old Testament emphasises these things, and describes God as someone who wanted a good house to dwell in – just look at the chapters spent on describing how the temple should be built.
God, dwelling with people, shared their desire for something more permanent, safe and beautiful than just a tent in the wilderness. We have a God-given longing for a ‘spacious place’.
I’m not glad that I’m housebound. But to be bound to this house, in particular, was an unforeseen blessing. Today I receive my house, for as long as I dwell in it, as a gift from God.

“When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord;
    he brought me into a spacious place.” – Psalm 118: 5, NIVUK

Over to you:

  • Can you relate with longing for a ’spacious place’? What does a ‘spacious place’ mean for you and your situation?
  • How important is your physical home to you?
  • How do you process that theologically?

Linking up with the folk at Five Minute Friday. This was my best five – ahem, seven – minutes on Place. 


We have a God-given longing for a ‘spacious place’. Click To Tweet


35 Responses to A Spacious Place

  1. Stephanie 24th August, 2017 at 6:41 pm #

    This brought me to tears. As horrendous as it is to be bed and housebound with ME, I also have a very comfortable space in which to be ill and had not realized when we moved in how impactful that would become. God had to really work on me back then to accept it because I tended to believe comfort was indulgent. It can be, certainly, but not always.

    • Tanya 13th October, 2017 at 5:05 pm #

      Oh, lovely Stephanie. I hope that your home becomes a way of you resting in the goodness of God.

  2. Elaine 21st August, 2017 at 10:58 pm #

    As I have just moved and am setting up my first truly all to myself apartment, I am glad for some others and also this post that help me realize that my home is important and worth creating well. I come from a background where frugality is valued so it’s taken some for me to realize that I have a budget for setting up the apartment and it’s ok to get some things that are nice and cozier and will make it home not an apartment. To have the freedom to make it into a spacious place

    • Tanya 13th October, 2017 at 5:02 pm #

      It’s hard to break from frugality, isn’t it? Sometimes it’s hard to remember that God wants to bless us. Hoping your apartment becomes a place of blessing to you and others

  3. Phyllis 20th August, 2017 at 1:26 pm #

    I came over from Velvet Ashes. The verses about a “spacious place” are some of my favourites. I have really struggled for years, living in no-so-spacious places physically. I would never have thought that would be a big deal, but in the long run it has been. So, I can definitely relate to a longing for a spacious place, and I thank you for sharing yours with me in this way.

    • Tanya 13th October, 2017 at 4:59 pm #

      I love Velvet Ashes! Thanks for telling me.
      And I get what you mean about not thinking it a big deal but it turning out to be one.

  4. Susan 16th August, 2017 at 7:40 pm #

    What a beautiful post! Yes I can relate to longing for a spacious place. I also have M.E., though in a very mild form and only since last autumn. But I used to climb mountains a lot and loved being out in those spacious places. I felt so alive there in the wilderness connected with all Creation. But for now, although I can still get out and about, those places are off limits and it’s hard not to wish for the ability to get there again. However, I have begun to see that God always does meet our longing for a spacious place and he has taught me how to get my ‘Creation fix’ in different ways. By a forced slowing down I’ve come to appreciate nature in a whole new way – I notice so much more and in some ways think I am really living now while I wasn’t before. But, I am lucky not to be so severely affected as you. Thank you for all you share on your faith and illness. It has really helped (and is helping) me.

    On an aside, I am very interested in how nature generally helps people’s wellbeing, but it made me think about whether people with severe ME. can always reap the benefits if they are dealing with issues like higher sensitivity and not being able to get outside. Have you been helped by nature at all since you have been severely ill? Has it increases your sense of wellbeing? Perhaps it’s actually a cause of frustration. I’d really appreciate your input. Watch out for blog posts on this topic.

    • Stephanie 24th August, 2017 at 6:48 pm #

      Is this directed only to Tanya or are you interested in hearing from anyone with severe ME?

      • Susan 14th October, 2017 at 4:51 pm #

        I’d love to hear from anyone

    • Tanya 13th October, 2017 at 5:10 pm #

      Susan, thank you so much for sharing something of your story! I think you will love the section in Those Who Wait on John the Baptist…

      Re nature – I’ve found ways of appreciating nature more since I’ve been ill. I can go outside and be refreshed by it, and I enjoy sticking my head out of the window and breathing rainy air etc. For those more severely affected, I think it must depend on their sensitivity to noise, smell and sight. I know that flowers for some would be overwhelming, but for others coudl be a way of enjoying nature. I’ve also found that I really enjoy others’ photos of nature when I can’t see it myself.

      • Susan 14th October, 2017 at 4:55 pm #

        Believe me getting your book is on next week’s to do list! God has been speaking to me so much about waiting and being patient over the last few months I can’t wait.

  5. Cathy 15th August, 2017 at 12:56 am #

    Oh, how I can relate! When I got divorced 18 yrs ago and relocated to a nearby town with my two young daughters, I prayed for a home, a school, a church, a neighborhood and a community. And God provided on all fronts, in particular, it seemed re: the girls’ school, where their teachers became like a second set of parents. But for myself, it has been the house that has spoken so clearly of God’s intimate knowledge of me. As a child, I wanted to live in a yellow Cape Cod when I grew up, and my home for the last 2 decades? A yellow Cape Cod, with trees to guard my introvert privacy, a first floor master bedroom and bath so I can have this floor to myself, a full bath upstairs and a finished basement downstairs for the girls. I have come to believe that God knew I would be alone for this extended time and that in that aloneness, I would need a daily, concrete reminder of Him.

  6. Sandra 14th August, 2017 at 8:27 pm #

    I love my current home, it is light, peaceful, and a haven and rented. I don’t mind those times when I am unable to go downstairs, to the front door. I love my purple bedroom. The skies I see from my sitting room window are amazing, and remind me of God’s Glory, and I share the photos on my FB page, and they are enjoyed and admired by people across the World. I do not own this home. I lost my home and everything in life, after many unhappy years and struggling, but never losing my faith. One January, at a Quiet Morning, I prayed and threw everything up in the air (metaphorically) and gave my life, my home, my marriage, my job to God, as I could no longer try any more solutions, or ideas I could come up with. God helped me confront one of my biggest fears, debt, after I discovered huge debts racked up, I know not how, by my now ex husband. I had tried to work it out with him, but 18 months later, another financial adviser, told me of a further £50,000 debt. Anyway, that is all background info, and to emphasise how wonderful my life is now, where God provides all I need, with little help from me, but giving me the peace and safety that I longed for. My ME had worsened during all the stress, and I now feel I have enjoyed 18 months where if I have to rest all day, all week, stay indoors, I am in God’s safe arms and safe place. So, a beautiful home provided by God, but in a different way. I stay in touch with the world and people by the internet daily. Thank you Tanya for your words. (Footnote, over the course of two years, my marriage ended, I was made redundant from a job I hadn’t been fit for for a number of years, and eventually, my eldest daughter was able to buy the old house before the Bank re-possessed it…all answers to prayers, and such a testimony)

  7. Gayl 14th August, 2017 at 7:57 pm #

    Tanya, this is lovely! I always enjoy your writing and I’m so thankful for you. You do inspire me, you know. 🙂

    Blessings to you! xo

    • Tanya 19th August, 2017 at 9:33 pm #

      Oh, but you inspire me!! Much love xx

  8. Jeannie Prinsen 12th August, 2017 at 8:27 pm #

    I am so glad that you have found a place to thrive and create even in the midst of really tough health issues. I think it can be tempting to feel that as Christians we need to be very ascetic in our desires and not wish for beauty and space — but sometimes God just wants to bless us with more than all we can ask or imagine.

    Jeannie (#64 in the Five Minute Friday linkup this week)

    • Tanya 19th August, 2017 at 9:33 pm #

      ” I think it can be tempting to feel that as Christians we need to be very ascetic in our desires and not wish for beauty and space” – yes – this is a big one, I think. Ascetic is so right. Thanks so much for stopping by here via FMF – great to meet you!

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