Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The View from the Pew

by Kristin McGuire

We attended the “Sabbath and Sanctuary” weekend at the West Lebanon, New Hampshire Church the weekend before Thanksgiving. Richard and Jo Ann Davidson were the speakers, and we were very blessed. After his final presentation, which was on the sanctuary, Richard was taking questions. My question was, “What would ‘coming to the holy place’ (Leviticus 16:3) look like for us?” His answer so moved me and has since affected my devotional life that I have to write about it.

He explained that “coming to the holy place” means going there in our imaginations that “where (He is) there (we) may be also”(John 14:3). It’s one thing to invite Jesus to help us with this and that and to enter in to all of our activities, but to realize that He has also invited us to come to where He is, is something even more delightful to consider and do. He went on to illustrate his point with a story.

Richard teaches at Andrews Theological Seminary, and once upon a time he had a favorite student. Perhaps this student was to Richard what John the disciple was to Jesus. So we’ll call him John. One day the Davidsons invited John to their home, perhaps for a meal, I don’t remember all the details. Well, at one point during John’s visit to the Davidson’s home that day, John said, “Doc, can I have a hug?” Richard, who had had his back to John at the time, smiled and turned around, expecting this good old slap-on-the-back type of hug that men do, but instead he saw tears streaming down John’s face.

Now Richard had been to many of John’s activities, maybe sporting events, things like that, and had shown special concern for John’s welfare and progress and had followed his life at the seminary with great interest. John knew that Richard cared deeply for him, but the fact that the Davidsons had invited him to their home, spent time with him in their home, was something altogether different. He said, “I knew you cared about me, but you invited me to your home!” Clearly, John was deeply moved by this, and no doubt it has had a profound impact on him.

My purpose here, pastors, is not to get you to invite people to your homes (although it’s a good thing to do). My purpose is to broadcast this simple kindergarten illustration, if you will, of the invitation that Jesus gives to you every day to come to Him in His home, the “holy place.” Let me just say that I and my whole family (and that’s six extra chairs at the table) have shared a Friday evening meal at Bill and Melanie Brace’s home on numerous occasions, so I know whereof I speak. This is a powerful tool to bind our hearts and blend our lives. I can’t tell you how refreshed I have been by these “oases in the desert.” Due to the intensity of life, though, these occasions can only take place a limited number of times throughout the year—maybe once a year now, or less. But how many times can it happen in our fellowship with Jesus? At least once a day, and preferably several! Jesus is inviting you to come refresh yourself in His home as many times and for as long as you want!

Maybe some of you are chuckling at the simplicity of my telling you this, when it is just so elementary, something you have known and believed all your life, perhaps. Well, then, just be encouraged that the light has finally gone on for this writer and her heart now is more bound to Jesus than ever. Maybe some of you, like me, are affected in a disorderly way (if you know what I mean, SAD), especially this time of year here in the Northeast. Well, Henry W. Frost once wrote: “Nothing so blesses the man who prays as the praise which he offers, ” and this idea of going to where God is in my imagination puts a whole new light on prayer and praise. So when shadows fall, let us ”praise God in His sanctuary . . . and let everything that hath breath praise the Lord!” (Psalm 150)[1]

[1] At that same conference, Ellen Busl, the principal at Estabrook School there in West Lebanon, sort of wondered out loud if there would ever be such a thing as a really good, up-to-date children’s textbook on the Heavenly Sanctuary. We were all delighted to hear that God had answered Ellen before she asked (Isaiah 65:24), because Richard Davidson has been asked to write just such a book, and our prayers are with him in that endeavor.

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