I started thinking about "Sanctuary" at a really, really low point in my life. A sudden job change for my husband,Tom, had left us in difficult financial straits. There was no way out but to scramble and try and make "extra" money any way we could. I was a stay-at home mom without a college degree, taking care of our three young kids. I had no clue what I could do. Tom took extra electronic assembly projects home after hours and spent his evenings and weekends trying to keep us afloat. That's when we stumbled across the "Box Job."
The "Box Job" was really assembling cardboard science display boards in a warehouse. It was hard and monotonous work and involved VERY hot glue guns. We were thankful for the extra money, but I grumbled the whole time. We would bring our kids to the warehouse and tried to make it "fun" by stacking boxes into forts, or setting up the VCR. We set quotas for ourselves to keep from going crazy. Woo Hoo! I made a display in 4.5 minutes! Only 100 more to go!
"God, what am I doing here?" I wondered what had happened to my nice little life before my hands were cracked and dry from folding cardboard. There were some nights that I worked late, knowing that I was missing the bedtime rituals and sweet comfort of a cozy home with all the bills paid. Boy, I missed that.
On one particularly low day, I began crying out to God for help. I can't really describe it, but I felt the word "Sanctuary" drop into my heart. Almost like Someone said it. I took out a 3x5 index card and wrote the word on it and tacked it by my workstation. Later, I added the words, "Peace, Order and Beauty." I couldn't quite figure out what it had to do with where I was at, but I knew that somehow God was speaking to me.
As I folded and glued away the hours and stared at my 3x5 card, I began to see that Tom and I had been trying to piece together our family life like a jigsaw puzzle. We had all the right pieces, but we didn't have a picture on the box to know what it should look like when we done!
"Sanctuary" became our "picture on the box." It helped us see that we need peace in our own relationship with God and each other as a foundation for raising these kids. It helped us realize that we need more order in our things and our time so we won't have the constant frustration of clutter and busyness. It helped us to understand that beauty is an important aspect of our home, and reflects God's own character in our personal space. It helped me clarify the direction I wanted to go as a wife and mom, so that every time I fall down, I can get back up and keep going.
That old 3 x 5 card has been my constant reminder of what I want for my home and my family. I've carried it around for years, and it's still tacked up by my desk.
I wish I could say that word from God made all our problems go away. I would have loved for the Box Job to go away, but I will say that it put it into a new perspective. By being willing to work outside the home, I was helping to provide some financial peace for my family. Believe me, I wasn't working so we could have a nice vacation or a new car. Every penny was going toward the necessities of life and yet I still felt "less than" I did as a "full time" mom. I was able to thank God for the "after hours" job, and have a more cheerful heart, because I could see that it was part of the bigger picture God had for us.
What I started realizing is that "Sanctuary" is not just for rich people, but it's also for poor, tired people. People like us, who struggle to keep our heads up sometimes. We may not have the fanciest house or the latest fashions, but we know that God's presence has never depended on those things. He is near to those who call out to Him, and He promises to help us in our time of need. I so desperately needed something from Him, some direction, some reassurance that He hadn't forgotten me...and He showed up with a word from heaven.
Maybe this is God's word for you, too. I'm going to spend some of my next blog posts talking about my journey and I hope you'll come along with me. It's what I started this blog for, but I keep getting sidetracked with other stories. I guess Sanctuary is for easily distracted people, too.
So take heart! Sanctuary is the "picture on the box" for all of us.