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Make Me a Sanctuary

Numbers 35:34b
“… I the LORD dwell in the midst of the people of Israel.”

The Shepherd’s Church, which my dad founded thirty-seven years ago, sits right in the hub of Cary, North Carolina, on the outskirts of Raleigh, between the two intersecting thoroughfares of Tryon Road and Holly Springs Road. The side facing Tryon has a lovely grass lawn, divided into four full soccer fields, and I’m currently sitting on a lawn chair on one of those fields, looking out across the parking lot full of cars. Though it’s a Tuesday afternoon and not a Sunday morning, the church is brimming with movement. Parents are coming out the doors now, with kindergartners in tote, some headed to the playground to swing, and others, I’m sure, headed back home. Landscape crews are moving about the premises in typical fashion. Staff members are taking a break for a stroll around the quad. Seminary students are headed inside with their backpacks to study in the library. And the distant hum of city traffic a hundred yards away from me, with the occasional beep of an angry horn, provides the background ambience to this gorgeous sunny day.

The reason I’m relaying these visuals to you is because as I unfolded my lawn chair in this quiet grassy field just a few minutes ago, and as I proceeded to sit for a while in quiet prayer, the diverse sounds of children’s laughter and engines humming and co-workers talking, the sounds of spiritual movement in the midst of this city that is, stirred my affections. Even before reading Numbers 35:34, I began to thank God for a place like this. A place of peace and tranquility; a place in the center of this municipality that represents God’s presence. A place where Christ is proclaimed, and virtue is preached, and service is practiced in so many ways. It strikes me how dark the city of Cary would be without churches like these to stand as beacons.

May we take the greatest comfort in knowing that our God dwells with us, but may we also see our lives as little microcosms of heaven wherever we go today. A refuge for wandering souls; a place of respite for the broken-hearted; and a grassy quad where those lost in the City of Man might draw nearer to the Kingdom of God.