A sanctuary – a safe place
A sanctuary is a safe place. It is a protected, holy place. There are sanctuaries for wildlife, birds, and for people. Some cities are sanctuary cities. They provide protection for soldiers from defeated armies, illegal immigrants, and sometimes they provide their own law and order. The purpose of a sanctuary city is to provide protection and escape. God commanded Joshua to tell the Israelites to provide cities of refuge. You can read about that here or here. The purpose of the cities was to provide refuge, especially for those who accidentally killed someone. When a person was in this city, no one could harm him or bring him to trial.
As God’s people, we are to be a sanctuary. Isaiah says we are to fear Him and He will become our sanctuary.
But the Lord of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. And He will become a sanctuary . . .
for God in us
To begin, we must be a place for God to dwell. He wants to dwell in us – and He wants His presence to filtrate through our being to others. That is how we become a sanctuary for others.
Our son’s wedding took place in the woods behind our house. The place held joyful memories of childhood, of escapades, building, and hours of playtime. By the time our kids were grown, the woodland they enjoyed so much had filled with briars and brambles, trees and fallen limbs. For the wedding to take place, for the place in the woods, work had to happen.
Saplings were removed, leaves and twigs takes and cleaned out. The area was cleared and sunlight came through the trees again. The woodland became a sanctuary, but only after hours of labor, cleaning out debris and making an entrance to the path. The wedding venue was lovely because of the hours spent cleaning up and clearing out.
That’s how we prepare our hearts to become His sanctuary. We clean up and clean out. It’s a continual process, and we are never completely done. That is because life happens. More brambles, more twigs, more leaves flutter down, creating clutter and pain. Each time we clear out the debris, our hearts are clean and open to invite our Savior to dwell in us.
for God through us
In our living, we provide care and comfort to others. We provide a safe place for others to find refuge (or, at least we should.) A living sanctuary is one that provides life, nourishment, and growth. A sanctuary is a place where secrets are shared and kept, where truth is spoken and received, and where burdens are lifted and released.
Are you a sanctuary?
To listen to the song Lord Prepare Me to be a Sanctuary, click here. Words and music by Randy Scruggs & John W. Thompson