The world is God’s natural sanctuary

Published 9:13 am Friday, May 19, 2017

On Sunday morning, Brandon preached a wonderful message on loving, obeying, and thanking God. He told a story of an elderly lady he used to visit, and I have thought about it all week. She wasn’t in great health and never left her house. However, she was never bored with her life even though she was confined to her little house every day. One day Brandon asked her how she always had so much joy despite her circumstances. She responded by saying, “God comes by and visits me every day. I look out my kitchen window, and He is always there. Some mornings it’s a singing bird and some mornings it’s a little squirrel. If we would slow down occasionally, we would notice God a lot more. He is in the little things.”
This past Monday around 6 p.m., I boarded a plane for Dublin, Ireland with this quote on my mind. My group from Milligan landed after a seven-hour flight, but I didn’t have a clue of what to expect leaving the airport. All I knew was that I would have three weeks to travel across Europe, and I did not want to miss God. I have intentionally slowed down this week, noticed the little things, and God has not disappointed.
Colossians 3:16-17 says, “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.” I think many times we are so focused on the hottest brand of clothes, the slickest cars, the biggest houses, or the intricate sights of our cities that we forget to notice our marvelous painter, our carpenter, our sculptor, our gardener, and our potter: God. He is the creator of this universe and too many times have we been so consumed with our own wretched works that we ignore the beauty of creation.
So far, we have only been to Dublin but that has been enough for me. On the first day, we hiked some of Ireland’s coast. It was one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. The sea stretched out forever in dozens of shades of green. A rounded cliff was covered in luscious green shrubs and grass. Yellow flowers spotted the hills. The baby blue sky was patched with a few cotton ball clouds. I watched wave after wave crash into the rocks below. I was speechless. “How Great Thou Art” played over and over in my head, and I had myself a little church service there in God’s sanctuary.
As I stood there embraced by the cool wind, I felt my heart warmed by God’s love. How could a God that is this good and mighty and powerful and creative love me? How is it that the God who carved beautiful Roan Mountain, painted the hills of Ireland, poured the depths of the oceans, and stretched out the stars and planets could desire a relationship with me? I don’t think I have ever felt so small in my entire life.
But God reminded me that Christ didn’t come as a tree, a rock, or a body of water. Christ came as a man. He suffered as a man. He bled as a man. He died as a man. That is how much God loves you and me. It is easy to forget our worth on our bad days. It is easy to make light of the Great Commission because we have more important things to do. It is easy to ignore our calling and purpose due to our busy schedules. But when I stop, even for a moment, to observe the handiwork of God and meditate on His power, love, and mercy, I have found that I feel valued and loved. I feel that nothing in this world is more important than my Father’s business. I feel as if there is no higher purpose in my life than telling others about Jesus.
My dry seasons in life were never God’s fault. God has always been all around me. He is in the Appalachian Mountains of Tennessee just as much as He is in the green pastures of Ireland. I was the one that quit communing with God. God is constantly beckoning us back to rest in His arms, but we oftentimes desire rest in our jobs, our families, our money, and even our church buildings. These things will never be good enough to satisfy our hungry souls.
I feel that some of you are feeling the pains of a starving soul. You keep running and running searching for answers, but you can’t find anything. Your doctors and lawyers can’t help you. The preacher can’t even help you, and your soul keeps begging for sustenance. Friends, I invite you to visit God’s sanctuary. Take off your shoes and feel the grass tickle your feet. Hike a mountain and let God breathe cool air on your face. Go fishing and rest in God’s presence of a slow and steady stream. Lay down and count the billions and billions of stars that God knows by name. Get up early and watch the sunrise painted by God Himself. Watch the blue sky turn to orange and purple as the sun goes down. Watch a deer graze in the meadow. Listen to the birds sing a chorus to their Creator.
You may not be able to see Ireland, but I promise, Carter County will do just fine. If your problems seem too big, your worries too overwhelming, your life too gloomy, your worth too little, head to the sanctuary. God’s sanctuary. Take a seat there on front row and let God, your loving Father, preach the greatest sermon you will ever hear.
(The Solution Column is provided by Pastor Brandon Young of Harmony Free Will Baptist Church, Hampton, and his associate, Hunter Greene.)

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