My soul grows tired from being assaulted by the noise of the world. Corrupt political parties think that having the most audacious lies will win them the most votes. The news media pushes the propaganda of powerful people to increase their ratings. Religious denominations convene their conventions to determine who has the best “woke” theology. Meanwhile, the beep of the grocery store register continues to inflate the possibility that I will die as a pauper.
Yes, my soul is constantly assaulted by the clamor of the world. And I yearn for a peace that passes understanding. But where do I find such peace? Opening my Bible, I read the words of the psalmist in chapter 73:16-17. He said; “When I thought how to understand this, It was too painful for me— Until I went into the sanctuary of God; Then I understood.”
Well, there it is. Understanding and peace can be found in the Sanctuary of God. The Sanctuary of God! So, I began to seek this place which is the Sanctuary of God. Where, is the sanctuary of God?
My God is the mighty Creator. I know that with a Word He spoke all things into existence. The universe cannot contain Him. For this reason, I thought, His sanctuary must be a grand and glorious edifice. So, I found and entered a most grandiose cathedral. The architecture was magnificent. The stained-glass windows were beautiful. The ambiance was soothing. I stood there and thought, surely this is the sanctuary of God. But God said, no this is not it.
Going down to the valley I walked into a little country church. There I found decades-old hymnals and worn Bibles lining the back of the pews. There was a pulpit from which many a great sermon had been preached. I stood in front of a table that bore the words, “This Do in Remembrance of Me”. There was an altar where many a tear had been shed. In solemnity and silence, I stood still. Softly, I asked God, is this Your Sanctuary? He said, no.
Next, my search took me to a hospital. A young girl dressed like a candy cane helped me find the hospital chapel. I entered a room that looked like a miniature church, it had a pew, a Bible, and an altar. This is a place where many had come to pray for sick loved ones. In this place, hundreds of broken hearts had stained the carpet with millions of tears. Often in this quiet room family pastors, and hospital chaplains had offered comforting words to grieving families. With a reverent whisper I asked, Is this your sanctuary God? His answer was, no, but you are close.”
At home later that night I stood in my backyard. The bright full moon seemed to be so close you could almost reach out and touch it. A retinue of silent stars whispered loudly of the Glory of God. The Milky Way trailed across the sky draping it with a muted splendor. The talents of men have never come close to matching the artistry of God’s masterpiece which is the night sky. In awe I declared, this has to be the sanctuary of God. A gentle breeze stirred the leaves on the trees and I heard God whisper, no, not quite.
By now I am getting discouraged. All the great and humble things I have seen, and yet I’ve not found the sanctuary of God anywhere. With tears in my eyes, I cried out why can’t I find your sanctuary, God? Is it not available to me? My soul is being crushed by the cacophony of the world. I need peace! I need peace that is beyond my understanding. Why can’t I find Your sanctuary? Where is your sanctuary?
Then, rolling in like a thick fog, God covered me. The sights and sounds of the world became blocked and muted. Now, it was as if I was finally alone with Him. In the stillness of my soul, I heard Him speak one word:
Remember? God, I don’t understand. What does that mean? He repeated Himself: Remember.
Remember, a noisy factory. The clattering machines and dust-filled air. Remember the deadlines and broken equipment. Remember the sound of beeping and the flashing lights as forklifts rush all around? Remember the hot, tired coworkers? Remember how you stood on the loading dock with two Christian brothers? Remember when a black Methodist, a white Baptist, and a long-haired Pentecostal took off their hard hats and gloves and joined hands in prayer? Remember how the Holy Spirit enveloped you and peace settled all around. Do you remember that? That day you were standing in My sanctuary.
Remember, when as a pastor you would be called to the bedside of a dying saint? The families gathered there, they were looking to you expecting comforting words and prayer. Their hearts were broken but so was yours. To this day tears still come to your eyes when you think about, Tot, Marcus, Miss Tessie, Dub, and so many others. Remember how you have never felt closer to heaven than when you stood at the bedside of a dying saint. You were close to heaven, and there was My Sanctuary.
Remember your childhood. Remember that passel of brothers and sisters you had. Remember how y’all fought and laughed and laughed and fought? Remember your pretty Mama singing and how you waited at the end of the driveway for your strong Daddy to come home from work? Remember how your Mama and Daddy made that house feel so safe and warm? There was love in that house and in that love, you had My sanctuary.
Remember standing at the altar of a little country church. Your daddy, the best man in the world stood by your side. Your eyes were on the door of the church waiting for it to open. When it did, a beautiful girl stood there holding her daddy’s arm. They walked down the aisle and he placed her hand in yours. Remember when you bowed your heads to pray and you felt a hand on your head? That was my hand as I blessed the union of your souls. The two of you became one and the two of you entered My sanctuary.
Then He reminded me of the times when I stood in a hospital delivery room. I watched my babies being born and my wife gave me the greatest gifts a woman can give to her husband. My amazing son and amazing daughter have made this world a better place with their Godly lives. God was with us in that delivery room and we were in the sanctuary of God.
And now I have my Grandchildren. These three make my heart swell when I hear them calling for Meme and Grandaddy. Jesus said such as the little children is the Kingdom of Heaven. When I see the sparkle in their eyes and hear the joy in their laughter the noise of the world fades away. This is the sanctuary of God.
But life is not always joy and happiness. Sometimes, maybe most of the time it is pain and suffering and grief and heartache. It is these times when you need the Sanctuary of God the most. So, God reminded me of these times and how He comforted me.
He reminded me of the night we had that wreck. All my family was hurt, except me. That night I was in the emergency room with my son, and my wife and daughter were in another room. Then, the state patrolman came to me and insinuated that I was at fault for the accident.
Even though I knew that a drunk driver was at fault I was still devastated. I sat there leaning on a table, my head in my hands. That is when I heard my son, my teenage son saying, “Daddy it wasn’t your fault”. It was his comforting words that brought me into God’s sanctuary that night.
Then there was a day I will never forget. We knew that Daddy had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. But until that day it had not really sunk in. That day we were all together at their house when Daddy did and said things that our Daddy would never have done or said. We were all devastated and heartbroken. We knew it was only going to get worse. That night I lay in bed and for the first time in my adult life, I cried. My wife wrapped her arms around me and held me. In her arms that night I found God’s sanctuary.
Into all families will come times of grief as loved ones pass from this earth into eternity. My family is no different. With trembling hearts, we have had to turn loose of people we loved. We’ve said goodbye to my Daddy, Deborah’s Mama and Daddy and so many others. Yes, our hearts broke, but there was a certain joy in knowing that their suffering was over and they had walked into the arms of Jesus. In that blessed assurance, we have found the Sanctuary of God.
That is what God told me to do when I sought His Sanctuary. In my memories, I found that God has never left me nor has He ever forsaken me. He has always been as close to me as the tears in my eyes. When I stand outside and listen to the rustling leaves maybe it’s not the breeze that I feel on my cheeks. Maybe it is His kiss as He kisses away my fear and sorrow. Then I know I am enveloped in the Sanctuary of God.
Where is the sanctuary of God? I can tell you where it is not. It is not in a church or cathedral. It is not in a person or a group of people, nor is it in a time or place. The Sanctuary of God is in the heart of the Believer. I know this because Jesus lives. He is in the Father; I am in Him and He is in me.
So, when you are bombarded by the noise of the world, just know that you can lie down in peace, because He is God, and in His hands you are safe. When you feel that you are being crushed by grief and sorrow, and the weight of sickness and suffering is bearing down on you, remember that He has said. “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” This is the sanctuary of God.
I often struggle with my Faith. You see I am a rotten sinner and often I ask, If I am a child of God why can’t I overcome my sinfulness? When I was a pastor, I would feel defeated, because of problems with people and church leadership issues. Sometimes in despair, I would cry out; God I need a victory. I learned the value of bowing my head and saying; God I believe, but help me in my unbelief.
Through it all I have found that I need not fear, because He is with me; I need not be afraid, because He is my God. He has strengthened me and He has helped me. I know that He holds me in His righteous right hand. So now I am sure that He who started a good work in me will carry it on to completion until the day that Jesus takes me Home. In this knowledge is the Sanctuary of God.
From Down Where The Pavement Ends