You know what I love most about summer? My back porch. It may not be very big; it may get too hot in the afternoons; the dogs may continue to rip the screen; but on summer mornings, it becomes a holy sanctuary. My porch is the place where I come face to face with my King, to sit at His feet, to feast at His table.
My quiet times during the school year happen very early, snuggled on the couch with hot coffee, a blanket, and a glowing fire nearby. I enjoy those early mornings, too. But these summer mornings are slower, more relaxed, lingering in His presence.
“O God, you are my God. Earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands” (Psalm 63:1-4, NIV).
Yes, I have experienced the Lord’s presence during worship at church, but I also feel His presence in my own private worship time. In fact, my most intimate encounters with the Lord have been during my own personal quiet time with Him. Our corporate worship in church should just be an overflow of what we are experiencing with Him privately.
Most of our church sanctuaries have crosses or emblems to remind us of God’s faithfulness. In the book of Joshua, we read the account of God dividing the Jordan River so that the Israelites could cross over into the Promised Land. When the whole nation had crossed over, God commanded them to set up memorial stones to commemorate what the Lord had done.
“In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord…these stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever” (Joshua 4:6-7).
I have some “memorial stones” on my back porch to serve as a visual reminder of God’s faithfulness to me.
Please don’t hold my amateur photography skills against me, but I wanted you to see my collection. The bird’s nest is to remind me to seek God’s presence.
“How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and flesh cry out for the living God. Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young–a place near your altar” (Psalm 84:1-3).
I can just picture the Psalmist looking up and seeing a bird’s nest among the columns of the temple, the Holy Spirit stirring in him that even the birds long to be in God’s presence.
The candle with the anchor reminds me of two unchanging truths: Jesus is the light of my world and the hope that anchors me.
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).
“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure” (Hebrews 6:19).
The seashells remind me of the certainty of the promises of God. Every Word He has ever spoken will come to pass. God told Abraham that He would make his descendants as “the sand on the seashore” when Abraham’s wife was old and barren. God fulfilled every word of His promise to Abraham despite what his circumstances appeared to be. When I look at those seashells, I recall God’s promises to me.
The Hebrew word for sanctuary in Psalm 63 is qodes, which means “holy or sacred thing, holy or sacred place, holiness, set apart as dedicated to God” (The NIV Exhaustive Bible Concordance). We all need a time and place set aside for God alone.
So how about you? Do you have a sanctuary–a place set apart as dedicated to God, a place where you connect with Him daily in worship? Do you have some “memorial stones” to remind you of His faithfulness?
“Come near to God and he will come near to you” (James 4:8).