It was surely a surprise 10 years ago when God invited us to move from the inner-city of DC to rural Virginia in the Shenandoah Valley. It was unexpected, and unexpectedly good, a grace. It was as if the Lord was saying to us, “Thank you for your heart and service to Mine in the city, but I know who you are even better than you do, and I am taking you to a place where I can use you even more, and for longer. You wouldn’t know to choose it, so I am doing it for you.” It was very clear to me that God was saying, “Bill, if you want to, I will be with you.” This was not God speaking his will as with a gun to our head (he doesn’t speak that way). It was an invitation, and gentle at that.
And we wanted to.
And our communities and loved ones discerned God in it too, and sent us.
So we came to a place, and it would come to be called “Corhaven”–rest for the soul, a shelter for the heart. It has been that for us and our family, and then, it has been that for literally thousands of people this past decade. More has happened from here and because of here than I could have dreamed or imagined, or envisioned or strategized or made happen. Without Corhaven, there would not be all of this, or this, or this, or this, and so much more, so many actual transforming experiences with God for so many people. Indeed, “To him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think…to him be glory.” (Ephesians 3.20-21)
It wasn’t long after arriving here in 2009 that it became clear that we really were only doing one thing–we were creating space for God, and then inviting people to who were seeking him to come, and God would meet them. It was and remains that simple. God likes meeting people who are seeking him. We create the space, people show up, and God shows up…it’s not complicated. I pray often, “God, lead those here who you want to meet here.” And he does.
I’ve come to realize that another thing that we were and are doing is this: Taking the resources that we’ve been given and doing our best to let them cultivate and reflect the Kingdom of God, God’s shalom, and then simply inviting people in, and being open to receive whoever shows up. As I often say, “God’s Kingdom is where what God wants to happen happens, where the way that God designed things to be actually happen.” In the case of Corhaven, that means stewarding a small slice of earth to create a space where people and creation and the Creator can dwell together in harmony, and then opening the doors. It is not perfect, of course, nor do we do it perfectly or always achieve this lofty (albeit simple) ambition. We are fallen people, and the world is fallen, and creation too, so there is a lot to contend with in seeking “Thy Kingdom come, here, as it is in heaven.”
But God in his mercy and desire does what we seek to do but cannot do in our own strength. So I’ve been deeply and profoundly blessed when someone has said of their time here, “I felt like I was in the Kingdom of God”. Tara’s gifts and offerings of course have a lot to do that.
So even as we celebrate 10 years of Corhaven tomorrow, I would ask you to do two things.
1) Thank God with us for all that he has done in the first decade of Corhaven, and please pray for his blessing to be poured out here as we enter our second decade. I pray often, usually a couple of times a week at least, “Oh Lord, fill this place with your Holy Spirit…again.”
2) Ponder the resources you’ve been given, all of them, large and small, and ask, “How might I use what God has given me to create a small slice of earth for his Kingdom to be cultivated and reflected?” Do that, and then simply invite people in. God will know how to meet them.
Grateful to be with you…
…On the Journey,
P.S.– I think in the coming years Corhaven will likely be cultivating a network of places like this, be they rural, in the suburbs, or in the city. We’ve got experience turning normal places into sacred spaces, and if you’d like help thinking about that for your place, let me know and we’ll talk about that. Or/And, you may want to watch again or for the first time this brief story of one of the most beautiful women who has ever lived, Ludmilla. She deeply inspires me.
“SOUNDINGS” posts are aimed at considering together topics that are important for our society, for the Church, and for our own spiritual journeys. To ‘take a sounding’ is a nautical term about using depth to determine where you are and where you’re going. These writings are designed to do just that. If you would like to receive Bill’s SOUNDINGS Posts directly to your inbox, click here.