What is a Thin Place?

Mountain top with clouds

How I learned about Thin Places

I was first introduced to the idea of thin places by my BFF and mentor Mary. We both had spent a few years investing in a group of punky middle school kids that somehow made their way to the church we work at. They took a lot of our patience, but the more patience you give the more love you develop. After they had gone through their middle school years, they branched off into high school. We connected with them every once in a while, but it was pretty clear that everyone was just moving on.

One day while I was at work, I got a call from a friend telling me that one of those kids had been killed. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time looking for drugs and just happened to get into the middle of gang drama. I was floored. He was just 15. I didn’t know what to make of it.

In the wake of processing this, Mary and I got together. I remember sitting there in a Mimi’s café, just both feeling so shocked and sad. But Mary had a tone about her that was different. It was really life changing to see the amount and depth of her hope and joy in this circumstance.

She told me about thin places. About this idea and how excited she was to walk in this with God. I had never seen anyone walk so boldly into a trial like she had, but man I wanted to be like that in this.

Upside Down Perspective

The idea of thin places flips upside how we look at trials in our life. Instead of them being valleys, the hard things in life become mountain tops. They become the peaks in life.

“A thin place is a place where the boundary between heaven and earth is especially thin. It’s a place where we can sense the divine more readily.”

– Rev. Dr. Mark D. Roberts in Thin Places: A Biblical Investigation 

 “Thin places” comes from a Celtic tradition called caol ait kweel awtch. This idea can simply be looked at as mountain tops or other physical places that the air is thin or hard to come by. Thin places really reflect a spiritual thinness as well. When we face trials, eternity becomes closer. The kingdom is more visible. But this is all about the perspective we choose to have.

It’s all good and well when we can look at trials as good things when we are not facing them. Adopting this way of thinking takes much more than that. It really takes discipline and trust in God to flip that thought process around. But I am sure that when we do, we can find real joy in the midst of trials.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.

James 1:2-3

Next week, we’ll look at where there have been thin places in the bible.

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