Sunday, July 12, 2009

Earthly Sanctuary


Recently I have faced a number of situations for which I have found no immediate solution. Along with personal illness, and related time off work, I found myself feeling completely overwhelmed and exhausted by it all. My mind was numb and my body weary---I knew I needed help. In crying out to God I was reminded of the one place I had always found peace and comfort in times like this. I was reminded of the church--the house of God--the earthly sanctuary.
As a young Christian, I had always had access to the church. My father being the Pastor provided me with unlimited opportunity to have time alone with God whenever I needed it. When life became too much for me to handle, the church became my sanctuary--my refuge--my calm in the midst of the storm. It was as if God were saying to me, "It's alright. I am here and I will stay as long as you need me to". I felt cradled by a force greater than myself. I felt safe.
So, when the recent events of my life became overwhelming, I went to the one place I had always felt secure. I went to my church. The minute I walked in, I felt the presence of God welcoming me. I felt the same peace and quietness come over my spirit that I remembered from my youth. I knew that, even if I left with no solution to my problems, I would still leave refreshed and encouraged.
I knelt at the altar and began to pray. I asked God for forgiveness for my earthly shortcomings and, like David, I asked Him to restore to me the joy of my salvation. I prayed for guidance and direction. I prayed for strength and endurance. I prayed for the peace that passes all understanding. As hard as it was, I asked God to show me what I was doing, if anything, that would prevent me from receiving the answers to my prayers. It was a prayer that was unrushed and unhurried--a prayer accompanied by many tears--a prayer from the heart.
I rose from the altar with no change in my circumstances. The problems and situations were still there--still unchanged. But, I was changed. My heart was filled with joy and my mind knew peace for the first time in many weeks. I had come to my sanctuary with a heavy heart, a cluttered mind, a wounded spirit. I had received comfort, encouragement and healing. I was refreshed by the washing of His Spirit and renewed by the power of His Presence.
There will always be problems, heartbreaks, illness, betrayals and sorrows in this life. I may not always be able to go to the church and bow at the altar, seeking His beloved comfort. But, for now, for this time, I found a haven. I found an altar of mercy and a God of unlimited grace. I found a refuge from the storm. It was there all the time--my earthly sanctuary.

In Grace,
Marie

4 comments:

  1. Beautiful, Marie. I've been at the altar more times in my life than I can say...each and every visit I met face to face with my loving Lord.

    Growing up Nazarene I've come to love the altar and all it represents. Not all churches have them. I realized not long ago a need to recreate such a place in my own home...a place of "sanctuary" for me when my heart is heavy or on days when it is rejoicing. A place where I can share with my Father the good and the bad of life...

    Beautiful post...beautiful heart.

    oxRebecca

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  2. Today I experienced nearly the same as you have shared. It has been with a heavy & sad heart that things have occurred recently. Last Sunday I prayed & cried during Mass for God to give me the strength & guidance to take care of issues that were long overdue to be handled with love & kindness.

    When in church today I looked up at the crucifix of our Lord above the altar & the heavy load was lifted in prayer to Him, He gave me a peace that all was ok.

    The issues are still there, but He brought me to Him for reassurance & comfort & strength.

    Beautifully written ... may your concerns be lifted quickly. TTFN ~Marydon

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  3. you said a prayer I love to pray, restor the joy of my salvation....thanks for the reminder.

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  4. My dear friend Marie,

    As always a very touching, heartfelt post. I love to read all that you write and I pray that you will continue.

    May the Lord bless you will peace, joy and understanding.

    With love,
    Lori

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