Just for you, I offer simple reflections and inspirational memes that can help you blossom and grow spiritually. Enter into the peace of The Sanctuary Garden blog and let Jesus speak to your heart. Unless a seed falls into the garden soil, it will not grow. A seed that is swallowed up by the garden will sprout many flowers.
“I went to a quiet place hoping to meet God.
But God was already there, waiting just for me.”
The Sanctuary Garden
A Reflective Blog
By Lisa Are Wulf ~
At our church, we have a lovely garden bench that sits on a small stone pavement in the midst of a tall wildflower collection. A narrow road runs past and often the flowers almost hide the little bench. It’s a peaceful place to sit and contemplate the beauty of God’s creation.
Recently I looked out the church window and the bench was gone. The beautiful wildflowers were cut back to the ground and all that remained was the bare stone pavement. The season had changed and now it was fall. Even so, something was missing.
Is this how it will feel to others when we pass away to the arms of God? Those who knew us will remember who we were and how we added to the landscape of their world. Our place may be gone, the bench of our lives may be missing and all the flowers pruned away. But those who loved us will remember.
How will it be when you are gone?
By Lisa Are Wulf ~
A friend recently reminded me of something my former pastor said. “I don’t care how loudly you are singing this morning, or how high your arms are raised, or how vigorously you say ‘Amen!’ during my sermon. None of these are indications of how good a Christian you are. The best indication is how you treat your server at lunch once you leave here.”
My husband and I have an informal ministry to servers at our favorite restaurants. We know many of their names and we listen as they tell about their lives. The shy ones always get a wave and a smile. We’ve even slipped our server friends some money when they were in need.
Christians can sometimes be self-absorbed and concerned only about their own religious experience. But Jesus says that when we reach out to help a struggling person, we’re also reaching out to him. If he has a special concern for those in difficult circumstances, how can we do less?
Are you reaching out?
A radical devotion to Christ—oneness with him—demands purity of heart. For most of us, our lives miss the mark by a mile. Perhaps we hold onto bad habits. Maybe our relationships don’t honor Jesus. Either way, the time will come when we are called to forsake the things of the past and walk in faith toward God.
Forsaking is a double-edged sword. Sure, we understand our lives will change as we follow Christ. Still, leaving the old behind and walking toward the new can be a lonely road. If we must venture away from life as we know it, we need a Savior’s hand to hold.
Letting go is never easy. Long held habits and thought patterns continue to intrude into our new lives. The possibility of altered relationships with our loved ones wrenches our very souls. Only the promise of a deepening connection with Jesus gives us the strength to do what he asks.
As we move closer to God and further from our old lives, he extends his hand to us. He gently helps us to safely cross the stream of trials before us. He lifts us in his arms to protect and shield us. His light glistens ahead as we walk ever closer to him.
by Lisa Are Wulf ~
I recently saw a documentary film about Johannes Vermeer, a 17th century painter. I was struck by one element of his work. While others at the time created elaborate backgrounds in their portrait paintings, Vermeer was different. He often set his subjects against a wall that was either empty or had very little decoration.
Because of this, his paintings give a unique and startling view of the soul of the person in the portrait. I wondered what I would look like against an empty wall. What would the viewer see? Would goodness and light shine through, or would they be overshadowed by less desirable traits?
Is this how Jesus sees us – without all of our background noise? The answer is probably yes. But if that’s true, maybe we don’t need all the noise and distraction since it doesn’t matter anyway. Perhaps all that is required is to live simply and transparently. That would be enough.
What would you look like against an empty wall?
by Lisa Are Wulf ~
Have you ever been to an orchestra concert? If you sit up close, you can see the interplay of the instruments. Perhaps the violins catch the melody first, and then the flutes might take it. Underneath the drums are keeping time as the trumpets chime in at the climax.
There’s a similarity in our lives. Some people stay with us forever. Others appear only for a season. Some live in the same place for years. Others frequently move. Sometimes these different strands feel good. But other times we feel a sense of loss when important people and places are no longer with us.
Perhaps we are part of God’s orchestra. He weaves certain people and places into our lives. Then sometimes he weaves them back out again. The melodies change. Some are loud and boisterous. Some are barely above a whisper. But through it all, God brings forth a beautiful sound.
What’s going on in your part of God’s orchestra?
By Lisa Are Wulf ~
I ran across a quote the other day that made me think. J. Oswald Sanders, who used to run a large missionary organization in China, had this to say: “Eyes that look are common but eyes that see are rare.” How true!
How many times have you talked with someone who looked at you but didn’t see you – the real you? Perhaps you’ve even done this yourself. So many of us are either too busy or too tied up in our own worlds to really see deeply into the heart of another. So those who need our care and understanding walk sadly away, unconnected and alone.
But I don’t remember Jesus doing this. Actually, he looked profoundly into the eyes and souls of those he met. I can only imagine the riveting effect of locking eyes with him. So if we’re called to be like Jesus, maybe it’s time to stop looking and actually see.
What do you think?