I’ve set myself a goal of reading 30 books this year. Four down so far! My last was Tyler Staton’s, ‘Praying like Monks, Living like Fools’. He recounts visiting the school where 20 years earlier, as a 13-year-old boy – not sure if his young Christian faith was real or substantial – he had enjoyed a year of remarkable spiritual growth, where it seemed God answered prayer after prayer. For Staton, a nondescript school, all asphalt, weeds and boring brick buildings, was Holy Ground, a place where he encountered the Presence of God.
Ordinary places can mark extraordinary moments in our life, moments of revelation and breakthrough, renewal and growth. It got me thinking of the ‘Holy Ground’ moments and places that are key markers in my spiritual pilgrimage.
Much more than nostalgic hankering for the past, they are springboards on which my faith finds the strength to leap into the future.
Here are a few of mine…
The camping ground at Belgrave Heights Convention Centre just outside Melbourne
It was here, as a know-it-all 12-year-old Sunday School kid, in the annex of my parents’ caravan, I prayed a tentative prayer of surrender to the God I wasn’t sure existed, instantaneously encountering love that both astonished and overwhelmed me. Love that has forever and is still captivating and changing me.
The old Methodist chapel nestled at the bottom of apple orchards in the Adelaide Hills
The chapel was home to Coromandel Valley Uniting Church, where I would gather with friends every Friday night, Sunday morning and evening through my early young adult years. Every time we met was pregnant with expectation. It was a spiritually rich season. We knew God was present, active – speaking, healing, changing and transforming. I was truly liberated from my fears and stepped into the adventure of faith that continues to this day.
The grounds of Scotch College in Adelaide and Cataract Gorge in Launceston
Both were central to the amazing things God did in and through youth conventions in 1995 and 1997. I played a small part as Convention Coordinator. Events attended by thousands that forever impacted the lives of hundreds and hundreds of young people.
The rows of chairs at Newlife Church at Robina on the Gold Coast
It was here for 15 years; most Sunday mornings around 7 am, sometimes Saturday nights, I would walk up and down, backwards and forwards, praying for the people who would sit in each chair across three celebrations that would happen that day. Prayers God would meet with, bless, inspire, challenge and change the people who would come. Again and again, God did.
Each time I think of or revisit these ordinary places, I’m reminded God, who did it then, can do it again. He will meet me, move me, surprise his people, and captivate us with his love. They are markers of my spiritual life and quest, tangible reminders of God’s loving action towards me. God’s presence – transcendent, loving, powerful, tangible, and felt – is what I need most to experience consistently in my life.
To paraphrase an early church sage, my restless heart can only find its rest in God. That a God beyond my finite mind’s ability to comprehend in part can be known, experienced, and experienced intimately, is astonishing to me.
What about you? Where are your ‘Holy Ground’ places?
Of course, you don’t have to have an active Christian faith like me to have some. After all, we are all spiritual beings, right?
What, if anything, does that ‘holy ground’ place/moment tell you about God’s character? How is it a springboard of faith for you today? As always, I would love to hear from you. Just hit reply.
Rev Stu Cameron
CEO and Superintendent, Wesley Mission