O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
2 So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
beholding your power and glory.
3 Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you. Psalm 63: 1-3
I actually began this post several months ago, and then I just let it sit in a note on my phone until I recently rediscovered it.
It has new meaning to me now.
I have found myself thirsty for God lately. The less I feel I can control the more I feel I need Him to take control – to ease my fears, to calm my nerves, to provide a place of comfort and safety in the midst of the current storm of Covid-19 and quarantine that the world is facing.
Sanctuary – a place of refuge or safety, a sacred place or thing
Where do you find sanctuary? Where do you find the peace that calms the storm; the other to a down-turned state?
Is it in the comfort of your home (maybe this has changed with recent events)? The open arms or willing ears of a friend or family member? A quiet space all to yourself? The feel of the breeze on your face? The warmth of the sunshine? The roar of the ocean? The challenge of strengthening your own muscles? Watching your children grow and learn?
These days some of these things are readily available to us, others are harder to come by and maybe sanctuary seems harder to grasp because of this.
In religious terms, we tend to think of a “sanctuary” as a place – a reverant, formal location for the worship of God. But God, my God, is in the midst of everything. He is the creator and sustainer of the people and places that can break us free from the harshest realities of life, and make us aware of the peace-giving possibilities of our earthly surroundings – because He is in the midst of them. My awareness of and connection with God increases in the most unlikely places when my senses are attuned to His presence.
In his book Jump Over a Wall, Eugene Peterson says:
“A holy place is where we become aware that there’s more to life than meets the eye, and that the more is “other”, Other. God , who is beyond us, and is also at hand.”
But how do we create this awareness of a God who is beyond us and also at hand?
I believe it is in acceptance and practice.
First accepting that there is someone bigger than us out there – a God who made it all. Not only did he make it, but he sustains it out of love.
God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
Psalm 46: 1-5
A person who is proud of their home does not simply let it break apart and fall to ruin. They lovingly care for it – clean, repair and restore it to the beauty they know it is capable of attaining. They still see the beauty in the midst of the wear.
Our creator works in you in the same way.
God is in the midst of her.
She shall not be moved.
God will help her.
There is a proud creator sustaining you, even reveling in the beauty you are capable of, if you are willing to see him and let him work. He is faithful, righteous and kind.
But you have a role too. You must be willing to look for him.
18 The Lord is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.
19 He fulfills the desire of those who fear him;
he also hears their cry and saves them.
Psalm 145: 18-19
This is where the practice comes in – the recognition of God in the midst of things that give life and peace. Recognize His presence and choose to interact with him. Call on him. Cry out to him.
God works in relationship.
Friendships are sustained through communication and diligence in finding ways to connect. Distance is overcome by willingness to be open and vulnerable. There is no need to pick up phone or pen, type on a screen or log onto Zoom to communicate with an ever-present God. You simply share your thoughts and heart and recognize that someone – someone present, powerful and willing – is ready and waiting to listen and act.
So cry out to him, like the psalmist, David. Believe that he is ready and waiting to hear from you.
Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me,
for in you my soul takes refuge;
in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge,
till the storms of destruction pass by.
2 I cry out to God Most High,
to God who fulfills his purpose for me.
Psalm 57: 1-2
David wrote this Psalm while sitting in cave, his place of sanctuary while being pursued by Saul – a long standing storm in his life. He recognized God’s presence in the midst of running for his life and he called out to God Most High – the God who has a purpose for each of us.
Accept him, seek him throughout life’s storms and triumphs, rest in his love.
He is your willing sanctuary.