This is a picture that was taken in Leadville Co.  I lived there for many years and graduated from High School there.  I was born in North Dakota and was always impressed to come back to the prairies and the wide open spaces.  We brought my grandfather back to Leadville several times and to get there we traveled through mountain passes and valleys where mountains rose up on both sides of the road to where you felt like you were in an alleyway in a big city.  My grandfather always said that he was uncomfortable and felt walled in.  He was happy to visit but happier to leave.  He liked being in the spacious places on the prairie.

We mentioned in the last blog that salvation means, in one sense having space to move around in.  When Lutherans’ talk salvation we mean being saved from sin and death and the power of the devil all of which hem us in.  Luther comments on David’ words in Psalm 118  and he said “just as distress is a narrow place, which casts us down and cramps us, so Gods help is our large place which makes us free and happy” (Luthers Works” 14:59).  Oswald Bayer says that the German word is better translated as a spacious place.   So just as our distress or anxiety,our frustration,our fear is a narrow place that  casts us down and cramps us Gods help is a spacious place. Remember how Luther after years of trying to figure out what Paul was talking about when he finally understood what justification by faith meant,said it was as if he had entered paradise itself. Matthew Harrison in  his book “Christ Have Mercy” talks about how baptism saves us because Christ sticks himself into the waters of baptism. Then he describes the voice of God confirming Jesus as his Son, and the coming of the Holy Spirit showing Heaven was open. Harrison explains quoting Luther, that “heaven is nothing but open windows and doors”.   It’s a spacious place.  It is so spacious it has many mansions.  Modern translations say “rooms”.  We are so puny, we are so narrow, we can never quite grasp the spaciousness of God’s mercy and grace and His abundant love for us the fallen children of men. We can’t even accept the translation of Jesus words – “in my Father’s house are many mansions. I go to prepare a place for you.” Those words come in the middle of that marvelous statement were Jesus declares himself to be the way and the truth and the life, a super abundance of God’s mercy and grace. Because He is the way we can walk in the spacious places even though we are confined in the valley of the shadow of death. Because He is the truth we are opened up in the spacious place of absolute recognition of who we are – we are completely free lords of all, and also constrained by God’s love to be servants of everyone. We are free to serve. Because Jesus is the life we are not confined to the narrow place of constantly worrying about the cords of death entangling us. We’re going to a spacious place and in this life we are spoken to in an eternal and immortal way. God speaks to us as His immortal children. He speaks to us as a fruit of His Spirits grooming and His Son’s harvesting. He speaks to us as those who have everlasting life right now.

[1] Oswald Bayer,  “Living by Faith”