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Getting Away from It All
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When my aunt Martha died, everyone in our family worried that Uncle Joe would succumb to his sorrow. He shut up his house in town and for an entire month lived in his cabin deep in the forest by a beautiful lake.

Then one day while Uncle Joe and I were fishing, he began to talk. “I’m moving back to town,” he said, “and taking up where I left off. Here in the quiet and seclusion of my retreat I’ve found new meaning for the years that lie ahead. I’ve found the necessary strength to face life alone without my wife.”

When troubles and sorrows weigh us down and we do not seek sanctuary, we often become escapists, dodging anxieties by hopping like sparrows trying to cross the road. We do not realize that we have the power to rise above the danger coming at us from all sides.

We don’t need to go to a lake, hidden in a deep forest, as my uncle did, nor do we need to retreat to some distant island to find our refuge. Sanctuary may be as close as our own backyard or basement.

Renewal in a Garden and a Workshop

An elderly gentleman who lives down the street from me spends most of his summer months working in his garden, cultivating vegetables and caring for dozens of beautiful rose bushes. One day he said to me, “You many think I’m crazy for doing this. I can afford to buy all the vegetables we need, and my wife usually buys flowers from the florist. But when I come into my garden and see the pretty flowers and smell their fragrance, and then see how well my vegetables are growing—I just feel good all over.

While I’m in my garden, I’m taking a breather from my worries and cares. I can go back into the house with a renewed spirit.”

Sometimes we can reach sanctuary by setting aside a few minutes every day to do something entirely different from the ordinary. I have a friend who is a salesman. After a busy day of traveling and meeting people, he goes down into his basement workshop, where he tinkers with old clocks that he has bought at auctions. “When you’re working with such small parts as a clock contains,” he explains, “you can’t be thinking about other things. You certainly forget all about the troubles of the day.”

Renewal Through Service

Some people find renewal in the act of serving. The next time you are hounded by fear or stymied by despair, try visiting patients at your local hospital. You can always visit with elderly people who live in your neighborhood; they appreciate company and small gifts.

Your church and school probably have committees that are begging for someone to give them a helping hand. When we focus on serving others, we gain perspective on our own personal worries and troubles that weigh us down. When we reach out to others, we not only assist them but benefit ourselves as well.

Jesus often found sanctuary and renewal when He went into the countryside to pray.1 And on that last evening before His trial and crucifixion, Jesus found sanctuary in a garden. “They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Sit here, while I pray.’”2

Refuge for the Soul

Sometimes, however, we need to cleanse more that our minds; we need to cleanse our souls as well. This is the time to discover the strength and beauty that are found in God’s sanctuary. There come times for all of us when, in our desperate need, we find no holy ground in nature or human sanctuary. 

 “If only I could know what to do!” is the cry we hear so often. The next time you need sanctuary, stop feverish activity, and do what those who have found sanctuary do: Be still and wait on the Lord.

As a baby finds sanctuary in the protection of its mother’s arms, so we too can find sanctuary in the arms of a loving Father who has promised; “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”3

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By Marion F. Nash. Excerpts reprinted with permission from Signs of the Times June 2006. Copyright © 2014 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

1 Luke 9:10, 28, 2 Mark 14:32, 3 Hebrews 13:5

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