Enter into the Secret Place
Have you ever longed for a secret refuge, a place of your own? That perfect spot where you could tuck yourself away from the world so you could pray or be alone with your thoughts – unnoticed by others.
As a young girl I would often watch my oldest sister quietly leave the house and disappear around the curve in our country road. I would watch with mystery, wondering where she was going. Funny how I never thought to follow her. Somehow my heart knew this was her alone time.
Years later I asked my sister where she would go and what she would do on her mystery outings, as she disappeared with her book bag slung over her shoulder. This was when I learned that my sister enjoyed nature, writing poetry, and a much-needed break from her six siblings. A quiet place where she could soak in nature, get lost in a watercolor sketch, time to think, read and pray. For her, this personal sanctuary was an old tree stump tucked in the brush, hidden in the woods – just around the bend of our country road.
When I return home and find myself tramping in the woods, I often think of that stump and wonder which one had become her sanctuary, her private place where her heart and creativity could commune with God.
Sanctuary with God
Each of us as God’s children have the privilege and personal invitation to move in and dwell in God’s sanctuary. How astounding is that!
Psalm 27:4-5 says: “One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple. For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock.”
God offers us a place of protection where our souls can dwell. This is a place of peace where we discover the freedom that Christ freely offers, a place where our souls can take up residence and find refuge.
Seeking for Beauty
I love to gaze at nature. To stare with hopeful expectation that my eyes will capture the perfect picture with one click of my I-phone. Desiring to see something I hadn’t seen before, desirous to catch it from a different angle or a different advantage point. Looking on with longing that my eyes and heart will capture something of significant beauty.
Did you know that God invites us into His sanctuary? He invites us to come and dwell with Him. To fix our eyes upon Him and wait with earnest expectation for Him to meet us right in the middle of what our souls are longing for.
The thought that I can gaze upon the beauty of the Lord nearly brings me to tears. To behold His essence. His being. All that He is. For all of this and so much more, I gaze on with longing to lay-hold-of His character. And in this one mindful gaze I know that I will be capturing the essence of the Lord which will bring me to a place of praise, adoration, worship and ultimately rest.
As I gaze upon the beauty of the Lord how can my heart not pour forth His worth? This flows out of me in music as my voice lifts in song, in words – both written and spoken, or prayer. Each becomes an avenue of worship to Creator God; the Maker and the One who sustains heaven and earth.
The sanctuary is my dwelling place where I stay hidden in the security of this sacred tent. As I come regularly, I will learn to quiet my soul and gaze intently on the beauty of the Lord. This time of respite is what ultimately will keep me in troubled times as my eyes learn to stay fixed upon Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith.
When I gaze at something, I am looking for some degree of what I have never seen before. I am also standing in the mystery of what has captured my focus. In my mind I am rehearsing all its attributes. I am looking on with longing to capture something new and fresh that has value and worth to my soul.
I have found that these are troubled days. Many people around me are hurting in deep ways. Their struggles are complex and many. Souls that need a place to retreat. The need to tuck themselves away from the flurry of activity, the barrage of worries, the bombardment of unexpected pain and find a quiet, safe refuge.
As I look at others pain, I reflect on my own heart needs. In this, I look for my soul sanctuary. A place to get-away and gaze at God. That place where my soul can breathe in all things holy, pure and enough. That place where I can speak with honesty of my hearts deficits and know that there is no judgement here – only a healing salve for my broken, wondering and often disparaging heart.
What about you? What has bombarded your soul? What has tripped you up or brought confusion into your life. What cries out with the desperate need for answers, a renewed hope, a soul reprieve? What has forced you to seek out a place of quiet retreat? Will you come? Do you have that desire to find that haven where your soul can find rest? I invited you to enter the sanctuary where God is… and gaze!
Prayer of response:
My soul delights in You Lord. Creator. Maker. The One who sustains heaven and earth. I delight to be called Your child. To be created in Your likeness. You are what my soul longs for. A firm foundation. The rock of my salvation. A safe refuge. You, O Lord are the One whom my soul loves.
I lift my hands in this place of sanctuary and bless Your name, for You are all that I need. Thank you for your goodness, that You don’t treat me as my sins deserve. Thank You for Your loving-kindness as it daily pervades my life. Thank You that You know the perfect way for me to go today. For this I am grateful, because I need wisdom and clear direction.
God, thank You that there is absolutely nothing that can separate me from Your unconditional love. Even though these are troubled times, there are no troubles that I face that will separate me from Your love. No distress I carry, no suffering I endure, there is nothing that will every sever me from Your love.
God, thank you, that Your sanctuary is never full! There is always room for me! It is here that I delight to hear Your voice say, “Enter in my Beloved. Find rest for your weary, troubled soul. My Beloved Child, I am here!”
God, I have come. It is here that my soul earnestly seeks for You. It is here that I thirst for You with my whole being. It is here that I behold Your power and glory and declare that You are my God! I lift my heart and hands in praise of all You are.
From the rising to the setting of the sun, I praise Your magnificent name! Amen.
Prayer scriptures: (Psalm 92:1; Song of Solomon 3:4; Romans 8:35; Psalm 32:7; Psalm 63:2; Psalm 134:2; Psalm 63:1-4; Psalm 113:3)
“You are my hiding place. You protect me from trouble; You surround me with songs of deliverance.”
“Keep me as the apple of Your eye; hide me in the shadow of Your wings.”
Linda Jane Dingeldein: Different by Design
Photography by Linda Jane Dingeldein