Following a massive earthquake in Guatemala, we worked on a Salvation Army multinational reconstruction project. At first I joked about the inconveniences of the makeshift accommodations, but after six months, the novelty waned. Pressures mounted to complete the project before the rainy season arrived, but the national emergency had depleted building supplies and slowed progress.
The spiritual strength that had carried me through other difficult times seemed diminished. I longed to attend worship services in my English-speaking homeland. It seemed that if I could hear hymns, and prayers, and sermons in my own language that I would be strong and patient and more loving.
One day, while leafing through my Bible, I found encouragement in an unlikely place – the prophecies of Ezekiel. The Israelites, living in Babylon, felt that they could not truly worship unless they were at the temple in Jerusalem. God, though, reminded the Israelites that the temple with its familiar rituals and language is not the sanctuary. God told Ezekiel,“I have been a sanctuary for them in the countries where they have gone,” (Ezekiel 11:16 NIV)
Many of us have been separated from friends, home church, neighborhood, family and even homeland. Furthermore, those who are older find themselves distanced from what was familiar in their young and middle years. In spite of our best efforts to adjust to necessary changes we often find ourselves thinking, “If I could just go back to my home church, or hear the worship music that is familiar to me, or hear a sermon by …I would find spiritual renewal.” We will not find God and his strength in a past location or era. God’s love and compassion are new every morning—right where we are today.
GOD IS OUR SANCTUARY
OUR SANCTUARY ACCOMPANIES US WHEREVER WE GO.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. Psalm 139:9-10
Never will I leave you; Never will I forsake you. Hebrews 13:5b
Martha Hawn VanCise©2014 www.signpostsonhightrails.com