She was a pitiful sight, the pit bull/Labrador/terrier mutt that our son, Jeremy, and his wife, Nancy, adopted from the Humane Society. Her head hung down, and her tail did not wag. Even her eyes conveyed great sadness. She never barked and did not know how to play.
Jeremy and Nancy decided to keep the name given her by the society staff: Reba. No use adding confusion to the poor dog’s problems.
When they first brought her home, Reba wouldn’t eat. She also suffered from anxiety, shaking uncontrollably when faced with uncertainty. (She still does, sometimes.)
Reba’s symptoms aren’t much different from those of humans, when we experience extreme stress. Depression and anxiety can quickly take over.
Jeremy and Nancy adopted Reba the summer of 2010. That December when we saw Reba again, it was as if Jeremy and Nancy had adopted a new dog. Now her head was up and her tail wagged merrily. She could run and jump to catch a tossed tennis ball in mid-air.
If Reba could talk, she would undoubtedly have abhorrent stories to tell of her past. But I have a feeling she would finish by saying, “My new life with Jeremy and Nancy is completely different. I love it here!”
Reba has found a sanctuary—a place of refuge and protection where she feels safe. Her life has been transformed.
We, too, have a sanctuary available to us. “The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble” (Psalm 9:9).
When David composed that psalm, the tabernacle tent-church was the sanctuary for the Israelites. God had told Moses centuries before, “Have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them” (Exodus 25:8).
For over fifteen hundred years, the tabernacle, and then the temple in Jerusalem, represented God’s presence among his people.
But that was only temporary. God provided an even better way to be with his people, through his son, Jesus.
Those of us who know him now experience his sanctuary within.
“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price” (1 Corinthians 6:19).
At the cost of his Son’s life, God “bought” us as his dwelling place.
We don’t have to go to Jerusalem. We don’t even have to be in a church building to experience the sanctuary of our God. His love, peace, and comfort are available wherever we are, whatever we’re facing.
Now that is life-transforming news. But I have to avail myself of its truth.
* * * * * * * * * *
Thank you, God, for being a sanctuary within me. At any moment I can turn to you, and you are attentive to my cry. As I focus on you—your wisdom, power, and benevolent care, my concerns deflate. I know you have a plan for my life, for those of my loved ones, for my country and the world. You are in control. I imagine you taking hold of my hand, giving it a pat or two and reassuring me, “Don’t be afraid. I will help you”.
You are incredibly good to me, O God, my refuge. I reaffirm my trust in you.
(Psalm 34:15; Jeremiah 29:11; Psalm 9:7-8; Isaiah 41:13; Nahum 1:7; Psalm 91:2.)
Photo and art credits: Jeremy Ruegg; http://www.thinking7.org.