Sanctuary

I’m in the kitchen making dinner, and suddenly I feel little hands clinging to my legs and hear voices squeal. Quickly I become the middle spoke of a make-shift merry-go-round as my daughter seeks protection from her big brother, who is trying to retrieve a toy she took from him.

I am Lauren’s sanctuary. She might not always get what she wants when she runs and puts her arms around me, but she knows I am her mom, I love her and she has a better chance of dodging her quicker and stronger brother when she stays close to me.

Jackson and Lauren love to play together. They also are skilled at pestering each other!

Many people may think of a sanctuary as a safe place to escape harm. Church attendees and members may think of the place where a worship service is held, where the choir sings and the pastor preaches on a Sunday morning.

While reading the Bible this morning, this verse reverberated in my heart:

Don’t you yourselves know that you are God’s sanctuary and that the Spirit of God lives in you?

–  1 Corinthians 3:16

Some versions of this verse use the word “temple” for sanctuary. Either way, the imagery is beautifully convicting.

I am God’s sanctuary and the Spirit of God lives in me.

Say that aloud. Say it again.

I am God’s sanctuary and the Spirit of God lives in me.

I am to be that safe place where my husband and children and friends and family and others can come to and feel God’s presence. I should be a person others can trust to find the God who can give them true peace. My life should be filled by the worship of the Living God, just as the smoke filled the temple as Solomon dedicated it to the Lord. My words and actions should proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ, convicting the lost and edifying the saints.

So how do we deal with the fact that too often we hold God at bay because of the ripped upholstery on the pews, snagged carpet and dingy lighting in our hearts? We judge others, privately sin and cover it up in public, harbor hate and jealousy, struggle with pride and too often feel altogether unworthy.

Yet, as Christians, we are God’s sanctuary and the Spirit of God lives in us.

Perhaps we need to be reminded that the primary purpose of a sanctuary is to meet with God. It is a place where sins are forgiven and lives can be changed through the Holy Spirit transforming our minds, attitudes and outlook. God will never deny a broken heart and a contrite spirit. There is nothing more beautiful to Him than a person crying out for forgiveness and accepting God’s plan and position of son or daughter. Even the Prodigal Son received new robes and a feast upon His return. His dirty, stained rags were exchanged, and so will our ripped pews when we humble ourselves before the Lord and ask Him to renew His purpose in our lives.

Our world, our communities and our families are in desperate need of sanctuaries. Become the sanctuary God intends for you to be, a place where the very Spirit of God lives unhindered and free to extend grace to those who need it most, including you and me.

Safe and secure

Jackson has been having trouble the last several nights staying in his bed through the night.

We’ve heard many reasons from him through the week of why, and some were excuses, some irrational fears and a few legitimate. Last night was probably the most difficult for all of us. He just couldn’t fall asleep, though he was trying. When Matt and I headed to bed around 11, he was still up and scared about something he couldn’t verbalize. We pulled the sleeping bag into our room, and he was very excited to sleep near us. Once we turned out the lights, he quickly fell asleep.

His sleep was restless, however, and he awoke upset. So, we eventually moved the sleeping bag into his room because he didn’t want to sleep in his actual bed. About the middle of the night he woke up shouting “Mom” and crying. I rushed in to see what was wrong, and he had a nightmare and was asking me if there were sirens and tornados. After holding him for awhile, he fell fitfully asleep once more.

Finally this morning about 5:30, he was in our room yet again with a few toy cars no less, claiming he just couldn’t sleep anymore. His tired eyes and voice said otherwise. Matt let Jackson crawl in bed on his side and held him and his cars. Within minutes Jackson slept peacefully and soundly.

In fact, we all slept another two hours.

For Jackson to finally sleep, he needed to be securely in his daddy’s arms. Once he felt that love and safety surround him, he was out.

I wonder sometimes if as we are scurrying about and exhausting ourselves with our “to-do’s” and busy letting ourselves be defeated by unrealistic fears or situations out of our control, God stands beside us through it all, waiting for us to crawl up in His arms and let Him hold us. God promised He would never leave us or forsake us. He is there, right now. And if you feel like you’ve been suffering from spiritual insomnia or worn out as you struggle to maintain your witness or continue with what God has called you to do, why not lean on Him? Are you facing a struggle you have no idea how to get past or being haunted by painful memories? Let Him wrap you up with His peace that surpasses all understanding.

I guarantee that when you feel God surround you with His grace and loving kindness, you will receive what you truly needed all along.

rest

Jackson finally sleeping peacefully this morning