Wednesday, December 28, 2011

My Very Own Sanctuary

I read an article today by Gordan MacDonald that talked about sanctuaries.  He speaks of a sanctuary as any place that we can go to in order to commune with God in a deeper way so that we walk away changed.  He talks about sanctuaries he has experienced throughout his life; all of them places that he visited once but they continue to leave an impression in his mind.  The whole point of the article is that we should make everywhere we go throughout the day a sanctuary within which God is able to work.  However, what really struck me in the article was the last few paragraphs where he says:

This morning I read once again (Mark 1) where Jesus, after a busy day, got up early the next morning and went off to "a solitary place where he prayed." I think Jesus would have thought of that place—quiet, beautiful, bereft of crowds—as a sanctuary.
We're not told what Jesus did in that outdoor sanctuary, but it's clear that when the time ended, he was committed to his mission of proclaiming his gospel more than ever.
A sanctuary, no matter what form it takes, is a place where one should experience interior change. Among the changes? A reminder of the beauty and love of God, a fresh realization of one's brokenness, a host of things to be thankful for, a chance to give from the fruits of one's labor, an experience of deep prayer and the sense that God has heard, and a time to hear the reading of Holy Scripture and feel it planting its powerful content in one's soul.
Many of us enter sanctuaries tired or disappointed or angry or fearful or lonely. Others enter with appreciations for loving relationships, life-blessings, and a desire to deepen or grow. But the thing of greatest importance is how do we leave? Redirected, newly focused? Having experienced grace and forgiveness? Appreciative of the people we've been with? Freshly committed to Jesus?
When I lived at my parents house I had a sanctuary, a place I could go alone in order to pray, read my Bible, meditate, and lay out any and all emotions before God.  There was a small Maple tree in our backyard, which I called my prayer tree, that served as my sanctuary.  But since I've moved out and gotten married I've realized on several occasions that I know longer have that place.  And living in town, in a small apartment, makes it even more difficult.  My sanctuary was always a place that I could go to and talk out loud to God; I could yell, I could cry, I could just sit in silence and smile, and no one would know or see.  I realized, several months before leaving, that I would be leaving that behind when I left my parents and would need to find a new place to make my sanctuary, but I haven't done that yet, and some days I really notice.

Where do you go to meet with God?  How do you cope when you are not able to make it to your sanctuary?  How often do you take (make) time to get alone to talk to God, listen to God, and meditate on the Word of God?

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