Friday, May 3, 2013
This morning I sit in my makeshift sanctuary. It really doesn’t look like a sanctuary. Laundry is spread on the couch waiting to be folded and put away. Dishes from breakfast sit dirty and empty on the coffee table. Books are strewn on both sides of me. One section of a wall has been pulled away to expose our plumbing because a plumber had to come this week. The pack and play sits out because I forgot to put it back in place after the boys left one day. So, it doesn’t look like a sanctuary.
But it doesn’t have to look like a sanctuary to be one. This back room of mine is a sanctuary because of God’s presence. That’s what makes any ground, any place holy.
Burning bushes are sacred and holy because our God reveals himself there. A sanctuary is a place set aside for the purpose of something holy and good. It is a place that has been cleansed and prepared to, at least momentarily, hold the weight of God.
In that sense we, who are his children—his people, are sanctuaries. We, these common earthen pots, hold the surpassing greatness of God. Did you just read that or gloss right over it? Paul says that we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all surpassing power is from God and not from us.
Since April 7th I have been involved in a Bible study with a group of women. The book we use? Idol Lies by Dee Brestin. A book about idolatry. A book about cheating on God. A book about turning to other lovers. A book about spiritual adultery. It has been a hard study. But something has happened that we didn’t expect, or at least I didn’t.
We are a messy group. We have issues. We have discovered the idols under our camel’s saddle. It is not a neat and pristine place.
This women’s group, the twenty-seven, has become a sanctuary.
It has become a place of holiness. A place that has momentarily held the surpassing power of God. A place where His presence hovers and abides. A place of protection and safety.
For a little while on Sunday nights these women cry sanctuary. And God hears.
And in this sanctuary I behold the glory of God.
As I look out at the sea of faces I see his weight in each of them. This very essence of Him is radiating from the portals of their eyes that usually swim with unshed tears. And I get overwhelmed. Sometimes I think they need veils. Just for my sake.
I lead this study—that really is a funny thing. Because right now all I can do is stand with Isaiah in the temple. In the sanctuary. And in this sanctuary I see the train of Almighty God’s robe in the honesty, transparency, realness and compassion of these women. I feel his presence in their longing to lay down their idols, to tear down the high places and to allow him to crush their stones.
And I, inside my heart and head, I am crying, “Oh, Lord. Woe to me. I have unclean lips. How can I speak to these women? Bring the coals, quick, before my lips even part. "
Because in the midst of their confessions, in the midst of their tears, I hear them whispering, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty.”
And I join them.
All that manifested in Isaiah’s physical temple is happening inside of our spiritual temples. These women are crying, “Holy, holy, holy.” They want their lives to whisper and shout it. And they are stepping in line to have their tongues seared.
And I see his glory.
They are reflecting his glory. They are being transformed into his likeness.
With ever increasing glory they are housing the weight of God.
C.S. Lewis: Weight of Glory
Ephesians 4: 6
One God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.