Sanctuary Isn't a Great Pair of Jeans
"We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus who went before us, has entered on our behalf..." Hebrews 6:19-20a (NIV)
As I got dressed, the brand name label in my jeans caught my eye: Sanctuary. Really? They definitely are my favorite pair of jeans, but could they really be considered a sanctuary?
This word "sanctuary" keeps showing up in my life. My family recently took a much needed respite away from our busy and demanding schedules. We went to a place whose motto is "Escape completely." That sounded perfect to me.
One morning, I headed to a spot they called "The Sanctuary." Anticipating a great time with the Lord, I found a quiet chair overlooking the peaceful water. Settling in, I had my Bible open and journal and pen in hand when I heard "Excuse me Ma'am. Do you have your Sanctuary card?" Sanctuary card? You've got to be kidding ? I have to have a separate card to get into "The Sanctuary?" I picked up my things and found another cozy spot two feet outside of "The Sanctuary" where I didn't have to have the appropriate card to meet with God.
Opening my Bible again I could hardly believe my reading:
"We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus who went before us, has entered on our behalf..." (Hebrews 6:19, NIV).
I had not been allowed to enter "The Sanctuary" two feet away because I didn't have the right card, but because of Jesus, I could enter the true sanctuary...His presence.
The Bible says a true sanctuary is not a place created with comfy chairs, soft music and views of the water. It is a place where the presence of God pours over us like a healing balm and Jehovah-Rophe, our healer, is present.
Combining the many definitions of sanctuary in the dictionary, I created this one: A place in God's presence where I can find shelter or protection from danger or trouble, finding relief and escape, and exemption from liability and prosecution.
The Psalmist spoke of his need for just such a sanctuary throughout Psalm 73:
Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart.
But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold.
(Sometimes in life, I feel like I'm hanging on the edge. Something has happened; causing me to feel like I'm going to lose it. What are you doing, God?)
For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong.
They are free from the burdens common to man; they are not plagued by human ills.
This is what the wicked are like—always carefree, they increase in wealth.
(Sometimes in the middle of our pain, we look around at others, and ask – "Why is their life going w ell? And why isn't this Christian life thing working for me?)
Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure; in vain have I washed my hands in innocence.
All day long I have been plagued; I have been punished every morning.
(He just doesn't get it. Why is his life a mess? Can you relate?)
When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny.
(In the sanctuary of God, things changed. In the presence of Jehovah-Rophe my healer, I can find relief; escape and exemption from liability and prosecution. I find healing.)
Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds (verses:1-5, 12-14, 16-17, and 23-28).
Sounds like the Psalmist really got it and it doesn't sound to me like a sanctuary can really be a pair of jeans!
Dear Lord, sometimes I feel like I need to escape completely. May the only place I escape to be You. When I feel like I want to run, help me to run straight into Your arms! In Jesus' Name, Amen.