Wide Open Spaces

A couple of weeks ago I went in for an MRI exam on my back. Have you ever been in an MRI tube? It can get a little tight and close in there. Fortunately, I’m not claustrophobic when it comes to physical space.

But I am when it comes to my spiritual space. I don’t like it at all when guilt and shame press in around me because of something I’ve done that was loveless or dishonoring of God. I don’t appreciate it a bit when I feel the hurt and anger of others closing in around me because I’ve said or done something sinful and damaging. I definitely begin to feel “pressed in upon.” And it’s no one’s fault but my own.

God’s forgiveness and deliverance sometimes feels to me like emerging from the MRI tube. Even if the room that holds the machine is not very large, it feels cavernous compared to where I’ve just been. I can move, stretch, and shake off the feeling of being enclosed in a giant mailer-tube.

That’s what Jesus does for me on a spiritual level. Only his grace and forgiveness take me much further than just into a slightly bigger room. Jesus removes me completely from my sin and guilt, “as far as the east is from the west,” into the wide open spaces of his freedom, hope, and life.

And it’s all because he was willing to be squeezed and closed-in for me. On the cross, he experienced the immense pressure of being “crushed for my iniquities.” In a tomb he was sealed completely, enclosed for three days to pay the price that I should pay.

King David, the author of Psalm 18, was constantly pursued by enemies in both the physical world and the spiritual world. He had to be constantly vigilant against the attacks of Saul, the Philistines, even at times his own friends and family. He also had to endure the assaults of the devil, the world, and his own sinful flesh.

David looked to the Lord at times like this, to rescue him from his claustrophobic feelings of being “pressed in upon” by those enemies. And as David writes in Psalm 18, a “spacious place” for his soul was the result of the Lord’s love and deliverance:

“He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me” (Psalm 18:19, NIV).

Lord, I pray that you will delight in me, through Christ. Forgive me of my sins. Deliver me from my guilt and shame. Through your grace and mercy, bring my soul out into a spacious place.

Our Bible reading for Tuesday, February 3, is Job 30:1 – 32:22, Matthew 22:15-46 and Psalm 18:16-24.

Header image based on "MRI" by West, CC by 2.0

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I'm married to my beautiful wife Julie and have five kids whose names all begin with the letter A. I'm a pastor at CrossWalk Church in Phoenix, AZ. I love Jesus, my wife, my kids, and my grandkids. Huge Arizona Cardinals fan! Reading, hiking, camping, travel, and fishing are my top 5 downtime pleasures.

2 thoughts on “Wide Open Spaces”

  1. Our Bible reading for Tuesday, February 3, is Job 30:1 – 32:22, Matthew 22:15-46 and Psalm 18:16-24.

    I thought, ‘Age should speak; advanced years should teach wisdom.’ But it is the spirit in a person, the breath of the Almighty, that gives them understanding. It is not only the old who are wise, not only the aged who understand what is right. (‭Job‬ ‭32‬:‭7-9‬ NIV)

    Heavenly Father, I pray to you and you listen. Not because of my age, or my wisdom. You listen because you love me. You have blessed me in more ways I can count. Thank you Lord for all you do for me everyday. My hands will never truly be clean. Thank you for Jesus, the Son of Man for washing away my sins.

    The Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight. (‭Psalm‬ ‭18‬:‭24‬ NIV)

    ~Paul Montenieri


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