Sanctuary {A Place of Refuge and Safety}

The journey begins in a church called Sanctuary Columbus.  I don’t “participate” in the service.  Instead, I sit and soak.  My response to the service becomes the first entry in my journals for December 6, 2014 (my 39th birthday) to December 6, 2015 (my 40th).


As the year comes to a close, I slowly realize what my heart most needed during these 12 months – what God wanted most for me –  was (and is) sanctuary.

A sanctuary is a place of refuge or safety.


The word comes from Old French sanctuaire, from Latin sanctuarium, from sanctus ‘holy.’ In the early sense, sanctuary is ‘a church or other sacred place where a fugitive was immune, by the law of the medieval church, from arrest.’

That’s what December 7, 2014 at Sanctuary Columbus is for me:  a place of refuge or safety.  A place I feel immune from the questions and stares….from the speculation and gossip. In this place, I am simply a friend of Marla’s, coming to worship with her before she moves to Cambodia.

I see it clearly in hindsight.  That day in a church called Sanctuary Columbus, he begins teaching me about quiet.  About stillness. About communing with and abiding in Him.  About “being” instead of “doing.”  About being an observer of life instead of an active participant.

A huge lesson for one who has spent her entire life moving at the rate of very busy.

That day, I exhaled.  And every day thereafter, I breathed deep and exhaled once again, writing prayers and praises to and for Him in my journal. Somedays I forgot, telling myself “I am too busy” – never true.

My soul needed rest.  Refuge. Safety. Time with the holy.

And He led me to it – even when I had no idea where I was going. I certainly wasn’t seeking refuge or rest.  I was seeking quite the opposite – it was my 40th year of life, and I had many plans and dreams about 2015 being the best year ever.

And so did God. He wanted that for me too.

But, his “best year ever” looked much different than mine.  His best year looked like me journaling my year, finding sanctuary in Him. Abiding and healing.  Not, doing and daring.

I look back at my failures this year and see His hand – how he said no and not yet – so I could find margin and rest. I’d dream big and plan big…and somehow…the dreams and plans would sputter and stop.  It was odd – or actually God;)

As I write, I keep thinking of a song from my youth….

Lord, prepare me to be a sanctuary

Pure and holy, tried and true.

With thanksgiving, I’ll be a living

Sanctuary for you.

That’s what he’s been doing.  And that will always be my prayer: that He prepare me to be a sanctuary every single day of my life.  Pure. Holy.  Tried and true.  And I’ll be ever-so grateful to Him, as I live as a sanctuary for Him – a safe place, a refuge, made holy because of His sacrifice on the cross.

I am thankful for a God who knows me better than I know myself.  And one who knows you better than yourself.  A God who gave me a one-year timeout. A God who provided sanctuary for Mary, Joseph, and his son, Jesus on a cold night so long ago in Bethlehem – and a God who provides it for me and you today.

I pray in 2016 you find sanctuary in Him.  A safe place of refuge and rest. Your own manger to rest from the weary world.  If you’ve been a “fugitive” from Him, please know he will open the door and allow you into the sanctuary of His arms once again or for the first time – all you have to do is step forward and knock.


Side note…

This weekend might be the busiest of the holiday season!  Perhaps you have gifts to buy and parties to attend.  I hope you take a moment and find sanctuary. Take refuge in Him – be still and know that He is God. Thank Him for this season and for all that He’s given and taken away this year.  If you need some help centering, remembering, and embracing, here’s a few resources you might find helpful.

When You’re Hoping for Things to Change for the Better by Ann Voskamp  – This post – or any post on Ann’s site  – will move you toward thankfulness, joy, and peace – and sanctuary in Him. 

Tears in Class by Marilyn Yocum  – Marilyn teaches English to refugees living Louisville, Kentucky. Her writing gives voice and understanding to their hearts, hopes, and dreams as they seek sanctuary in the United States.  While you may not understand all of the issues surrounding the refugee crisis, I encourage you to begin with Marilyn’s short posts about the ladies who tear up while learning the word “mother.”

Through Mary’s Eyes by Jennifer Schmidt – Perhaps the best way to settle in and remember this Christmas is to read the story of a sanctuary called a manger through Mary’s eyes.  May you take time to be like Mary: But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. Luke 2:19.

Much Love,

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