God is Not Served by Human Hands

I remember helping my dad build our swing set when I was a child. He handed me a hammer, and showed me how to pound, pound, pound a nail into a piece of wood while he looked on, guiding my hand when I needed, and always giving the finishing pound, burying the nail into the wood. I eventually reached an age where I realized that what took me thirty pint-sized pounds, my dad could have done with one, but his affection towards me was so great that it didn’t matter.

Called Out

As I take a step back from college ministry for a season, I am having one of those moments again, where I realize first, how great an architect my Daddy is, and second, how much love and patience He has for me, fumbling around in this grown-up world.

I worked in campus ministry for two years, with the goal of seeing a house of prayer rise up on every campus in Boston. So when God called me out of the campus scene so quickly, in my me-centric world I asked Him, “How is there supposed to be a revival in Boston if I’m not on campuses starting houses of prayer?!” I thought my fears were validated when I heard the news that the MIT House of Prayer would not be continuing this school year.

I heard a familiar voice saying, though, “Hey Kelsey, answer me one thing. Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?” (Job 1:4)

A New Thing

I was seated in MIT’s dimly lit chapel before an icon of Jesus, surrounded by flickering candles. I knelt on a prayer rug with about 30 others, and while they chanted in Latin, I just listened. I tried to listen beyond the haunting echoes off the tall stone walls, past the frustration that I didn’t know the language, and beyond the discomfort of having to sit still, so different from the charismatic worship gatherings that I so easily box God into.

As I listened, I asked, “God, what are you doing here? Where are you?”

Sitting next to me was Sabrina, a new Catholic missionary at MIT with a heart to bring together the different fellowships in prayer and worship. Kelly, a close friend who leads a movement called Unite Boston, bringing together churches and denominations around the city to pray and worship Jesus together, chanted on my other side. In front of me was Erik, one of my former Cru students with a heart for unreached people groups. Behind me was a large group from the Lutheran-Episcopal Ministry, who in all my time at MIT I had never seen gather with the larger Christian population. A girl from Intervarsity sat nearby, and a professor stood in the shadows in the back.

In the stillness of this Taize gathering, God whispered back, “I am doing a new thing”.

Taize prayer is a contemplative ecumenical prayer style started by a protestant monastic community in Switzerland in 1940. There is no one leader, and much of the gathering is silent, but at a few points different people read scripture in their own tongue, and the songs, which are more like chants, are often sung in Latin. 

At the end of the gathering, one of the Lutheran campus ministers stood and announced that a Taize prayer gathering would be happening once a week in the MIT chapel for the remainder of the year.

My Dreams are Too Small

I have dreamed and prayed for weekly prayer gatherings in the MIT chapel for years, but my dream was too small because it was just that — my dream, shaped by my comforts, my prejudices, and my ambitions. Just as King David wasn’t allowed to build God a house, it was never going to be my job to build God a house at MIT. I may have placed a few nails and pounded them a few times with my hammer, but God won’t be limited by the ceiling of the dreams I’ve built. Instead, He lets me dream with Him, just big enough to require faith, and even shows me the fulfillment of some of those dreams.

This year, the MIT chapel is finally becoming a house of prayer — Taize-style prayer that is. For me, it stands as a reminder that “the God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything,” (Acts 17:24-25). 

meKelsey  is a second year intern with Cru campus ministry in Boston, working mainly at MIT. This year she will be trailblazing a new internship in the northeast called Freedom58, a partnership between Cru and International Justice Mission, to bring Biblical Justice into Christian conversation at universities.

Comments (1)

  • Dee Kohlhoff

    3 years ago Reply

    Kelsey,
    I truly enjoyed your article. It’s such a good reminder that our thoughts are not his thoughts and HE IS SO MUCH BIGGER THAN US! Love your writing style. Keep up the good work, sister!

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