Stepping into Sacred Space where God Speaks

July 16, 2013



Earlier this summer, I was back at The Citadel taking my son Jack to a soccer clinic Monday through Thursday mornings. The clinic was led by the girls’ soccer team coaches. (I played soccer all four years at The Citadel, but now they only have a girls’ team – but that is a whole other story.)

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings, I demonstrated serious vacation motivation. While Jack was in the clinic, I ran around campus, worked out at the gym, juggled the soccer ball for a while, ran around some more, etc. On Thursday, however, I was sore from the previous three mornings and decided to spend the morning in the chapel and watching Jack play.

During my four years at The Citadel, I spent considerable time in the chapel—not in services but in solitary prayer. One place every cadet goes at least once a day is to Mark Clark Hall – home of the mailboxes where sometimes letters or care packages await. On the way or returning to check their mail (the old-fashioned mail,) cadets walk past the chapel. At some point in my knob (freshman) year, I committed to myself to step in the chapel at least once a day when passing it to pray for a while. Of all of the vows to myself or goals I have made, by God’s grace this one I kept thoroughly. Sometimes I stepped in for a short prayer and stepped out onto my way; other times, I prayed for an hour.

After more than 20 years since graduating in 1991, there I was again praying in the chapel, and I had all morning to spend. As I prayed and read Scriptures, it was surprising to think that I was a priest now—ordained to actually celebrate Holy Communion at this altar. Wow! I had actually come a long way in many regards. In other ways, I was still the needy, desperate supplicant before a mighty and holy God whose words I longed to hear and touch I yearned to feel.

It was in this chapel, that I experienced God’s peaceful presence during my four years as a cadet. It was there that God especially surprised me one day. During the Spring of my Junior year, I was feeling burdened and stressed. I prayed in the chapel for a while, and as I turned to leave I walked down the side aisle. I looked up and it seemed as though all of the sunlight shining from outside was focused through one small panel of a stained glass window. That small panel had one word: “Hope.” “Hope” literally glowed that day.

When I returned to my room, God led me to a Scripture I had recently read, “we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. Romans 5:3-4 There was hope, and I knew that through the sunlight in the window and through the Scriptures, God had really spoken to me and answered my prayers, because “hope does not disappoint.” (Romans 5:5)

I know it is all by grace that we can pray to God or even sit in his presence. How often as an adult I have neglected that grace that brought such fruit to me as a cadet at The Citadel. We don’t always have a chapel on our way to step into to pray. We all need to find some place, some time, and some way to daily step out of the world and into God’s presence for a few minutes or a few hours. I’m thankful for God’s leading me back to that sacred space of quiet stillness that is God’s workshop.



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