WEEK THIRTY: THE WIDE PLACE
“I shall walk in a wide place, for I have sought your precepts.” Psalm 119:45
One thought from the Bible can always make me smile, relax, and say “ahhh.” It is when I think about “The Wide Place.” After a season of being assailed or harassed or tempted, God’s inclination is to pluck you out of your difficulties and put your feet down in “The Wide Place.” It is as if He says, “This is enough!” His compassion for us is so great that when His purposes are accomplished, it is not His wish to leave us in our suffering one minute longer than we need to.
Throughout the Bible, we see prophets and psalmists referring to this much longed for place of refreshment and restoration. Some versions call it the spacious, large, or broad place. I love 2 Samuel 22:20 especially because it points up the truth that God’s placement of us in The Wide Place is unmerited and all for His own very personal reasons:
“He brought me out into a spacious place, he rescued me because he delighted in me.”
Only God in His infinite mercy could find delight in His children like me who have rebelled repeatedly and failed to worship and follow Him with their whole hearts, but that is exactly what He does. He delights in us. That is a fact. He delights in me. He delights in you. Because of His personal delight in us, He wants to put us in The Wide Place.
Psalm 31:8 underscores that we cannot get into The Wide Place through our own efforts but that it is God who decides not to allow the enemy to overtake us and it is God who sets our feet down in The Wide Place:
“You have not handed me over to the enemy but have set my feet in a spacious place.”
Psalm 118:5 NIV says that we should cry out to our loving Father when we are in distress:
When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord;
he brought me into a spacious place.
And Psalm 119:5 says we are to seek His precepts in His Word:
and I shall walk in a wide place, for I have sought your precepts.
Previously, we studied how Job was assailed. In Job 30:15-16, Job testifies to what he believes to be true of the Lord, despite the fact that his circumstances at the moment do not encourage Him to believe. He says:
“But those who suffer he delivers in their suffering; he speaks to them in their affliction. He is wooing you from the jaws of distress to a spacious place, free from restriction, to the comfort of your table laden with choice food.”
I could go on with more Scripture, but you get my point. But what exactly is The Wide Place?
The Wide Place is a rest stop on the very difficult journey a Christian has to walk. It is what R&R* is to a soldier who is pulled from the front lines of battle because his general knows that men need rest. It is similar to the player who is benched until he can get his breath and get back in the game with renewed vigor and zest for pressing hard toward the victory.
One of the Hebrew words for The Wide Place is “ravach.” It means “to breathe freely, to revive, to have ample room, to be refreshed.”
One way I always know I am in The Wide Place is that I can breathe a bit easier; things just are not as hard every day. I feel I have more margin in my life, ample room just to live and not go relentlessly from one hard thing to the next.
When I am in The Wide Place, I always mention it to those around me and to groups I may be teaching. Because our hardships seem to draw the most attention, I want to point out this propensity God has for taking his people out of their hard circumstances and placing them in a roomy place with lots of space to breathe and stretch and enjoy Him. He has a fondness for doing this, and that part of His nature does not get mentioned nearly enough.
The best visual of it that I know is Psalm 18:33 NASB:
He makes my feet like hinds’ feet, And sets me upon my high places.
The high places (this type) were places of safety and security. This place positioned the hind so he had an advantage over his enemies, above them looking down and hard to reach. Just as Job testified above to the Lord’s faithfulness during his horrendous circumstances, Habakkuk does the same thing in Habakkuk 3:17:
"Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no food; Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, And there be no herd in the stalls—Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.
The Lord God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer's feet, And He will make me walk on my high hills." - HABAKKUK 3: 17-19 (NKJV)
Dear friend, when your circumstances are rocky, testify like Job and Habakkuk to the Lord’s goodness and know that He will bring you into The Wide Place at the time that is best. And if you are in The Wide Place now, testify to others about His goodness. Encourage someone who needs to know the Lord longs to bring them, too, into a place of rest, safety, and security.
*R&R is a military acronym for rest and recreation or recuperation.