“May we have communion with God in the secret of our hearts, and find Him to be to us a little sanctuary.”
This little family is in the throws of togetherness… Otherwise also known to many of you as “spring break”. Carrying the professions of teacher, paraprofessional, and coach in this family — and having littles who have practice and every other blessed busy thing — we don’t have the means or so much the time to jet set anywhere exotic. Omaha was in the plans, but this momma is still healing from sinus and ear infections — and honestly, being home is just sometimes quite lovely — as we always seem to be running away from it most of the time.
This probably doesn’t come as a big surprise to most of you, but I’m a home body (smile). The outside world can be so overwhelming and obtrusive to this girl. Many adventures are to be had within my own thoughts, books, and just a jaunt away on our beautiful bike trail (dude, it’s a snake fest and wild animal kingdom — serious Narnia amidst gorgeous foliage — new with every season — it’s even lovely in the winter). And I work with preschoolers. Come on — top notch entertainment and non stop action. I truly do not need anything else. My life is complete. I just keep blooming my best where planted. And that proves to be enough (smile).
And I am a person that craves peace, a sense of order, calm, my space, and sanctuary. Less is always more. I drown in things. I drown in busy. I just can’t think, get motivated, and often become paralyzed. I want to take up space in this world with my thoughts, ideas, creativity — with BIG love — not with stuff, nor with obligatory events or “have to’s” that don’t really do anything in the grand scheme of things but stress me out — I crave the intimate, the authentic, the intense real — and I have come to totally accept this about myself (smile). It only took a good 40 years (and some amazing friends who are my sisters and sisters who are my sisters — we’re all in this together). Not everyone is an extravert and that is okay. Really and truly okay. Repeat 100 times…
So I want to be a procreator of what will last, what will stay, what will grow, change and transform this space around us–instead of suffocating it. And for me, this is what has endearingly become known to this heart as keeping my sanctuary…
For there are very few things I NEED in this life, I’m pretty simple — but I am a person that straight up requires sanctuary — quiet, space, peace, intimacy, love — this is an urgent passion, not a flippant desire — and I have come to see this in my children as well. They crave their quiet space, their place to be truly seen, their safe haven, their cocoons of home where their souls are read as perfectly complete and whole — however broken or ‘messy’ the world deems them to be. How do I create this for them in a world that is so everything but safe, so everything but a guardian of the precious and sacred? Is it even mine to create? How do I guide them to something inside of them that only needs to be found?
“Remember the entrance door to the sanctuary is inside you.”
As a person who has spent a large portion of her life living in fear and anxiety, I would like my boys to generously skip over this state of being… And yet, I want them to understand HOW to deal with these feelings when they do surface–as an occasion and not a norm (smile). For me, when all these old friends come to visit — my entire being craves God (this was not always the case–He’s graciously brought me through so much). Like, face in the Bible, on my knees, hands up to heaven — crave my GOD. Although He is my everything all.of.the.times — when I have questions, when I am feeling less than safe, when my heart gets all wonky and I feel it getting sick, the pull is ten billion times more intense. It’s something I can’t really even describe. It’s like needing air. He IS my sanctuary. I want my boys to understand this to their core. I want them to see his open arms. I want them to feel his enveloping presence. I want them to realize his vastness, his strength, his omniscience, his might. I want them to appreciate, without a shadow of a doubt, that God is our refuge. “You are my hiding place; You will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah” Psalm 32:7
And it’s been a couple of those weeks for me, face in the Bible weeks. Ezekiel and Hebrews have been my focus — and it surprised me how often the word “sanctuary” appears in Hebrews — and even a few times in Ezekiel. And if anyone needed sanctuary, it was the people being addressed in these books of the Bible — Ezekiel a hostage in Babylon, and the Jewish Christians who were experiencing terrible times of suffering for their faith in Hebrews. Ezekiel 37:26 “I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant. I will establish them and increase their numbers, and I will put my sanctuary among them forever.” Forever peace. Forever sanctuary. Forever with God.
In Hebrews the word “sanctuary” is mentioned often. Hebrews 6:19 “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.” Hope that enters our sanctuary. Hope that anchors. Hope that secures. These happenstances caused me to search other places in the Bible for this word that has been on my mind and heart. It appears several times in the Psalms. In Leviticus as well. And in Exodus 25:8 where the Lord speaks to Moses and requests that Moses tell the Israelites to “Then have them make a sanctuary for me and I will dwell among them.” A divine relationship becomes personal. It becomes intimate. From heaven to earth. From God to man. Sanctuary becomes a dwelling place.
Sanctuary. What an incredibly powerful word. Often when it is mentioned in the Bible, it is referred to as a place in the temple where God resided. Where the presence of a majestic and powerful God dwells. It’s a place inside a church, a synagogue, a place of worship. It is holy. It is sacred. It is divine.
Webster defines sanctuary as a place where someone or something is protected or given shelter — the protection that is provided by a safe place. Also as the room inside a church where religious services are held. It dates back to the 1300-50’s and is Middle English, late Latin — derived from sanctuarium. It’s original meaning was a sacred place or shrine–but the term expanded to mean a safe haven or refuge. Thank you, Webster. Can’t remember the last time I used a dictionary.
I digress. As a brain with ADD does. I guess what this all means to me is the awesomeness and compilation of many thoughts crashing around–that may make sense to only me (smile). The ultimate being this — that our most authentic and real sanctuary is truly within us. What began in the Old Testament as a physical structure, a place where high priests could enter, a room where sins were ceremoniously required to be washed clean with the sacrifice and blood of animals, is now an intimate, metaphysical place filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. It is a place that exists within US! And that verse in Exodus rings with clarity and truth still to this day — and is just so incredibly beautiful — “Then have them make a sanctuary for me and I will dwell among them.” Our souls are a sanctuary for our Lord. The power of the divine dwells in us. How awesome. How literally, mind blowingly, awesome…
He truly is my sanctuary. We are so deeply interconnected and interwoven, my creator and I. We can not be separated — ever — by anything. I’m walking, breathing, living, with my forever sanctuary — bought by the sacrifice of his great love for me. That is powerful stuff right there. Shake you up powerful stuff. My safe place, my holy place, my sacred place, my God — all encapsulated in the soul of His creation. Boom. This girl is shaking. That we could see each other with these eyes! Wow. Just wow. That we could know, truly KNOW, we have nothing to fear! Wow. Just wow. That we can live our lives in such a way to be worthy of this sanctuary. Incredibly moving and powerful and inspiring — if not slightly daunting… And that’s when it’s time to put my face back in the Bible… (smile).
And, as always, the issues the Christians were facing in the Bible make my head and heart deals seem so small. I mean really. When Paul, chained to a Roman guard every waking minute of every day, pens the frequently quoted verse in Philippians 4:13 “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” — I have to often give myself a reality check and give praise to God instead of going to this verse for the proverbial “strength” I need to get through my “troubles” as Paul also extols us in this same book to “Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again: Rejoice!” While he is in chains – praising God and finding sanctuary in his Jesus.
For a girl that has a hard time finding a sense of sanctuary in things, in places, in structures, or in organizations, events, or societal constructs in general — it is so not you, it is so me – it is so very, very me (smile) — I get this sanctuary. All the way to my soul. And God gets me. He created this crazy mess, after all. And He loves his daughter. Face in the Bible and all. Whether I’m struggling to hear His voice in the noise that so often immobilizes me or it falls easily and gently on my ears like a sweet spring breeze after the rain. The important thing is that I keep trying. I keep pressing onward. I continue to be faithful. Even with the smallest of steps. And as Rachel Held Evans writes so gorgeously, “No step taken in faith is wasted, not by a God who makes all things new.” (Searching For Sunday) He is always making us new. He never gives up on us, loves. Never. I know this. In such humility and by His ever flowing grace and mercy, I know this…
And in this walk of faith I will always and forever find sanctuary in my Savior. He’s always there. Right there. With every single breath. With every single beat of my heart. With every mistake I make (and there are so many — and yet he loves me anyway — over and over again as I try to get this whole service and love and life thing..).
And He loves you too. The all of you. The every.single.part.of.you. The parts that you don’t let anyone see. The parts you don’t like so much. The parts you wish weren’t there. He loves those too. And all the parts of you that make you smile. They make Him smile too. He knows you better than you know yourself. He loves you more than anyone could ever love you. You have never known such a love. You will never know such a love — until you begin a relationship with Him. Until you come to rest in this place of sanctuary with Him.
❤ And it is my prayer for you — dearest friend — that you can find sanctuary in Him, and that He may find sanctuary in you. ❤
Bless you, loves, and shine on. ❤