Monday, August 04, 2008

Today’s Reading: John 14:16-17 (NIV)

[Jesus said], “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever – 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept Him because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you know Him, for He lives with you and will be in you.”

Good morning!

Nestled in a tiny clearing off an old gravel road, stood the most beautiful country church I have ever seen. It did not compare to the great cathedrals in Europe, or the large arena-turned worship centers in many of our large cities. We came upon the small, white framed building, as we drove underneath a canopy of large oak trees, whose branches had grown together through the years. The trees provided a cool reprieve on a hot summer’s day. The church yard was meticulously landscaped. A stunning oak gazebo with stone steps sat near the back of the sanctuary. Two large red doors opened into the sanctuary’s pristine foyer and bell tower. I was immediately drawn to my life verse stenciled across its freshly painted walls – I can do all things through Christ, which strengthens me (Phil 4:13). Inside the sanctuary, I noticed the sweet smell of cedar in the air. I looked up and saw the beautiful, open beamed, vaulted ceiling. Sunlight was streaming through the windows, and the wonder of God’s creation was visible all around the sanctuary. I could see the fellowship hall just a few short feet away, in an adjacent detached building. Behind both structures was the community’s cemetery, sitting on a shaded hillside. Every tombstone stood in silent attention, awaiting the trumpet sound peeling from heaven’s gate. It was as if I had stepped out of my car and into a beautiful Thomas Kinkade oil painting. The Bethel United Methodist Church, with its beautiful cross raised high in the sky, was for me the Church of the Wildwood, that incredible country sanctuary I had sung about my entire life.

I met the master builder in worship. He had created with his hands what his heart has always longed for. This place was the outward expression of his soul’s deepest desire. As a renovator and restorer of fine things, he understood the significance of the sanctuary. Beam by beam, the builder erected a sacred and holy space where folks from his tiny community would gather each week to praise the Lord. The master artist poured rivers of life into the vision of this humble human heart, who then poured a labor of love into the space where I sat in worship. The Holy Spirit of God is an indescribable, amazing gift.

It’s presence in this place was simply overwhelming. Jesus promised His disciples that He would send the Spirit of truth to live inside our hearts, creating a sacred space for the Lord to live and reign in us forever. While in worship, I began to take a silent stroll through the sanctuary of my heart. Jesus Christ lives there and He is working to renovate that sacred space inside of me. I am His lifelong work in progress. The beauty of who I am has nothing to do with the exterior shell, the earthly form that will one day return to the dust from which I was created. No, true beauty has everything to do with who Christ is and what He has done in the remodeling of my life.

Thank you Lord Jesus, for your gift of sanctuary.

Grace and peace,

Deb Spaulding

Faith UMC - St. Charles, MO


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