Thin to Win

There is a thin line that separates the light and the dark. The difference from 11:59:59 pm to 12:00:00 am is simply a second, at 211 degrees its just hot water that would burn a man, at 212 you can run an engine to do the work of 100 men. Standing out on Interstate 90 in South Dakota just west of Okaton and east of Belvidere there’s a sign that reads, “entering Mountain Time Zone”. You draw a line right there and straddle it facing North, judging by the clock, your left foot is an hour slower than your right. A thin line.
A man asked me the other day what’s the difference between an agnostic and an atheist. I said both are standing up somewhere at 11:59 PM, simmering at something less than 212 degrees Fahrenheit, the one exception is the agnostic is facing north and the atheist south somewhere on interstate 90 between Okaton and Belvidere, South Dakota. In other words, they’re both about in the same position. The former thinking he’s smart enough to figure it out and the latter dumb enough to believe he already has; but, neither has probably experienced that thin line before. The line when the second hand passes from 00:59 to 00:00 or that single degree from just hot, to steam; certainly, few folks have ever straddled the time zone marker between Okaton and Belvidere, SD.
Stress, whether induced by fear, pain or work “thins” a man out a bit. They say there’s no such thing as an atheist in a “foxhole” and this might very well be true. I’ve never been in a foxhole before so I can’t really say much about that but I get the meaning. When heaven or hell comes calling, which I presume is the case in a foxhole, or your business is failing or your marriage is failing, a child is dying or you are dying or after extreme physical challenges, a man’s human spirit begins to thin out. In the Celtic tradition, places that give us an opening into the magnificence and wonder of God are called “thin places.”
Luke tells us about an experience for Peter, James and John when Jesus took them up on a mountain to pray, it must have been a difficult climb, the stress has thinned them out a bit, because the 3 disciples were near asleep when Moses and Elijah appeared and began to talk with Jesus. At the sight of these things they became fully awake. No doubt, a very thin place. And God Himself spoke directly to the disciples there, as well, though they did not speak about this to anyone for some time.
Now the agnostic says we cannot prove this, so he will not believe it, the atheist says these stories are no more relevant than the Lion streaking down the corridor of the great and powerful OZ after he’s asked him for a dose of courage. What do you say? Does God use the “thin places” we experience, as his best means to truly communicate with us? Because some see these moments as fabrications or tricks, give them less significance? Or, do places like the Emmaus Road or the Damascus Road stand as the example, “thin places” are significant to all of us and we should listen closely when they come.
In the movie “On Any given Sunday”, Al Pacino gives a great motivational speech to his football team, in which he proclaims: “one inch too short, you don’t quit make it, one inch too long you don’t quit catch it, the inches we need are everywhere around us”. Maybe the same is true for the thin places. Maybe the agnostic and the atheist are just either an inch too short or too long and victory just seems to elude them. Pacino goes on to say: “I know if I’m going to have any life left in me, its because I’m willing to fight and die for that inch”. Maybe its that inch, that second, that degree or that thin line you pass through somewhere between Okaton and Belevidere, when heading West, you gain an hour on the world. In the thin places God wakes us up; maybe they are everywhere around us, maybe we are supposed to fight harder to see them and act in them. Like they say at Caribou Coffee, “life is short, stay awake for it.” Ain’t it so.

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