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Monday, November 02, 2015

Sanctuary of the Heart

In the LORD, who is my strength, in the LORD alone, will I place my trust. (selah)

Lately, I've been thinking about sanctuary.... I don't necessarily mean that part of a church where a group of believers gather to join in corporate worship. My thoughts are more along the lines of a refuge, a place of safety.

When I think of the meaning of that word, sanctuary, I see an image in my mind of a tiny bird, in a raging storm. Torrents of rain, howling winds, thunder and lightning, rage around the little bird as it sits, perched on a little shelf of stone, nestled into an jagged crack in the bare, stone face of a cliff. Above it, a scrap of a shrub clings to a root-hold somewhere in the depths of the fissure. A plant so small it is almost non-existent, it is still thickly foliaged enough to shelter the little inhabitant.

All my life, I have had people and places that were consistently sanctuaries for me. For years, I have been able to depend on the same people, the same places, to provide--or at least facilitate--a sense of peace and safety in my life. The past few years, however, God has asked me to open my hand and release those precious people and places into His care.

In 2013, I believed I heard God saying, "Hold tight to Me, because everything else is going to change." Then, in 2014, I believe He told me, "It's OK, I'm holding you for now." When He gave me those messages, I wasn't sure what they meant, only that both of them were sent as reassurance and encouragement.

I won't lie. There have been times that grief and longing for those places, the loneliness for those people, and the times we shared, weighs heavy on me. Like a thick, prickly wool shawl, soaked in cold water, and forcibly wrapped around my head, shoulders, and chest, the grief wraps around me--cold and damp, suffocating like heavy moisture on a humid day. If it were possible, the heaviness would squeeze the joy out of me. That's when I know where the heaviness came from, and I struggle my way out from under it. I ask my Papa to help me put on the robe of joy.

He has always been there when I call Him. He is faithful.

Never once did we ever walk alone.
Never once did you leave us on our own.
You are faithful, God, You are faithful.

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