As I got dressed this morning, the label in my jeans caught my eye: sanctuary. Really? Could a pair of jeans really be called a sanctuary?
This word “sanctuary” keeps showing up in my life.
Last week, during Easter break I enjoyed a trip with my family. We took a much needed respite away from the busy and demanding schedules we’ve had this spring. The place we went to had as their motto: Escape completely. That sounded perfect to me!
Easter morning, I crawled out of my bed and headed to a spot that they called “The Sanctuary”. I was anticipating a great time with the Lord as I found a quiet chair overlooking the peaceful water. I had just settled in with my Bible open, journal and pen in hand when I heard a voice, “Excuse me Ma’am. Do you have your card?” I pulled out my blue card and handed it to him. “No Ma’am. Your sanctuary card?” Sanctuary card? I thought. You’ve got to be kidding? I have to have a separate card to get into “The Sanctuary”? I picked up my Bible and journal and found another cozy spot, two feet outside of “The Sanctuary”! I didn’t have to have the appropriate “card” to meet with God there!
As soon as I got resituated, I again opened my Bible. I could hardly believe when my reading took me to this passage:
“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus who went before us, has entered on our behalf….” Hebrews 6:19
There was that word; sanctuary! I was not allowed to enter “The Sanctuary” two feet away because I didn’t have the right card, but because of the One who had risen on that Easter morning, I could enter the true sanctuary that Jesus made for us. We can enter His sanctuary anytime and anywhere because of Him.
Over the next few days, the word sanctuary was every where! A water tower on the highway, a development trying to sell new homes, you name it and again, my Bible reading spoke of a true sanctuary; a place that is not created with comfy chairs, soft music and views of the water. A true sanctuary is a place where the healing presence of God pours over us like a healing balm. True sanctuary is the place where the presence of Jehovah-Rophe our healer is present.
After looking up the definition of sanctuary in the dictionary, I took the seven definitions that were there and combined them to create this one:
Sanctuary: a place in God’s presence where I can find shelter or protection from danger or trouble, where I can find relief and escape, and where I can find exemption from liability and prosecution.
The Psalmist spoke of his need for just such a sanctuary. Check out Psalm 73.
Surely God is good to Israel,
to those who are pure in heart.
2 But as for me, my feet had almost slipped;
I had nearly lost my foothold.
(Sometimes in life, that’s how I feel. Like I’m just hanging on the edge, finger nails dug in the ground. Either something has happened or something is happening that is causing me to feel like I’m going to lose it. Sometimes I even wonder What are you doing, God?)
3 For I envied the arrogant
when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
4 They have no struggles;
their bodies are healthy and strong.
5 They are free from the burdens common to man;
they are not plagued by human ills.
Skip to v. 12
12 This is what the wicked are like—
always carefree, they increase in wealth.
(Sometimes in the middle of our pain, we look around at others, maybe even at those who are not living for God and we ask – “Why is their life going well? And why isn’t this Christian life thing working for me?)
13 Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure;
in vain have I washed my hands in innocence.
14 All day long I have been plagued;
I have been punished every morning.
(The Psalmist is saying he just doesn’t get it. Why is his life a mess while others go free? Can you relate? Skip to v. 16)
16 When I tried to understand all this,
it was oppressive to me
17 till I entered the sanctuary of God;
then I understood their final destiny.
(When the psalmist entered the sanctuary of God, things changed. In that place, in God’s presence where I can find shelter and protection. In that place, in the presence of Jehovah-Rophe, my healer, I can find relief; escape. In that place, I can find exemption from liability and prosecution. In that place, I find healing.
Skip down to verse 23 when the Psalmist shares the truth as he sees it.)
23 Yet I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.
28 But as for me, it is good to be near God.
I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge;
I will tell of all your deeds.
Sounds like the Psalmist gets it and it doesn’t sound to me like a sanctuary can really be a pair of jeans!
Well, it is time for me to board my plane. I am heading to Maryland to spend the weekend with the women from the Church of the Epiphany. We’re going to talk about God’s sanctuary and how in that sanctuary we can embraced the woman God has created us to be.
So, while I am gone, can you share with me what and/or where is your sanctuary? We’ll chat some more on Monday. Have a great weekend!