Sunday, July 12, 2009
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.