By Danny R. Von Kanel
It’s been said, “In today’s world we have loneliness, but rarely solitude.” Animals hibernate, but only to survive the winter. A plant’s chemical clock reacts to the seasons, but only humans need solitude—regardless of the time of year. Even the Son of God sought time alone (see Luke 9:18, 36; John 6:15).
Jesus demonstrated the need for sanctuary—a safe haven where we can go to be recharged, refocused, and reenergized. As we follow his example and seek our own personal sanctuary, let’s remember our ultimate purpose in doing so is to seek private solace with him.
Finding a safe haven stems from a personal motivation to get alone with God (1 Thessalonians 4:11; Ecclesiastes 9:17; Psalm 46:10; Galatians 1:17).
Paul said, “Study to be quiet” (1 Thessalonians 4:11, American Standard Version). The preacher in Ecclesiastes echoes this sentiment when he refers to “The words of the wise heard in quietness” (Ecclesiastes 9:17). The psalmist chimes in with, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). Paul thought it so important to find a safe haven that he spent three years apart from the Jerusalem church and the other apostles after coming to Christ. He said, “I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. Then after three years went up to Jerusalem” (Galatians 1:17, 18).
Once we understand the role a quiet place plays in our pursuit of God, we must make a conscious choice to get alone and seek after the things of God.
Jesus went to the mountains (Luke 9:36; John 6:15). Daniel entered an inner chamber (Daniel 6:10).
Any place can serve as a sanctuary so long as it is quiet, secluded, and free from distractions. My living room has become my sanctuary. Making sure your safe haven is comfortable, well lit, and conducive to quiet reflection helps to ensure its value.
The psalmist went to God morning, noon, and night (Psalm 55:17; 88:1). Daniel did the same (Daniel 6:10). Paul challenged Christians to pray continually (1 Thessalonians 5:17, NIV).
By choosing a time and committing to it, you will be more likely to follow through on your daily retreat. Some people prefer the quiet of the nighttime. Others prefer the stillness of the morning as an opportunity to ask God to bless and guide them through the day. Still others find time during their lunch break.
The psalmist and Daniel combine the three, seeking God’s blessings in the morning, listening for new direction midday, and thanking God for the day’s blessings and accomplishments at night.
The more time we spend in our safe haven, the closer we come to Paul’s ideal of praying without ceasing.
The purpose of finding a sanctuary is to help us grow in our knowledge of God (2 Timothy 2:15; Psalm 139:23, 24; Ephesians 3:17-19).
Paul told Timothy to “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved” (2 Timothy 2:15). David’s prayer suggests several questions to ask of God in our quiet times: “Search me,” “know my heart,” “test me,” and “know my anxious thoughts” (Psalm 139:23). Paul prayed that the Christians in the church at Ephesus would become “rooted and established in love,” “have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,” and “be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:17-19).
Guard the time you spend in your safe haven. Anything you do in your quiet place other than seek God will prove to be a distraction and a hindrance.
The use of various Bible translations, dictionaries, and commentaries will help make your time with the Lord meaningful.
Once you’ve settled on a time, place, and purpose for your quiet time, equip your sanctuary with the necessary resources: a selection of Bible translations, commentaries, paper, pen, hymnbook, and so on.
Make the Bible the clear focus of your study. Use other resources only as they enhance your understanding of God’s Word. Don’t let devotional books replace your examination of Scripture. As wonderful as many of these resources are in pointing us to Jesus, God promises only that his Word will not come back void.
Use the following assessment tool to help determine if the time you’re spending in your safe haven is enhancing your growth in Christ. Write the appropriate number beside each sentence. When finished, total your score. A scoring chart follows.
4 = All the time 3 = Most of the time 2 = Some of the time 1 = Never
1. My study time is leading me to a deeper knowledge and understanding of God:
2. I am allowing God to search me:
3. I am allowing God to know me:
4. God has been trying me during this safe haven journey:
5. I am making progress in taking my “thoughts captive” (allowing God to know my thoughts):
6. I am becoming rooted and grounded in love:
7. I am beginning to understand the length, height, and depth of God’s love:
8. I am being filled with the fullness of God:
Scoring: 28-32 Superior Safe Haven—You are becoming more like Christ.
23-27 Excellent Safe Haven—Great progress, but you need to change what is not working.
18-22 Good Safe Haven—Slight movement toward Christ. You are holding your own but need to address weak areas.
13-17 Fair Safe Haven—You are treading water in your walk with Christ. Revamp what you are doing. Your present focus is not working.
8-12 Poor Safe Haven—Your time is wasted. Check your relationship with Christ. Do you know him personally? God will speak to your condition if you allow him.
Finding a personal safe haven is one of the best means of keeping your walk with the Lord on track. My safe haven has become a place to wrestle with God about life and death issues as well as day-to-day matters that confront me. Your safe haven can do the same for you. Find your personal safe haven and watch it become your personal sanctuary. T
Danny R. Von Kanel is a freelance writer in Franklinton, Louisiana.
Two Devotional Journals
After you’ve created your personal sanctuary, you may need some material to read when you get there. Here are two options to get you started with daily reading:
Celebrating Life’s Journey
These two devotionals are part of Standard Publishing’s 365 Devotions® series.
Each book features practical devotional thoughts that offer inspiration and hope for each day. The yearlong devotional journals include:
• Daily Bible readings
• Scripture memorization
• Song suggestions to assist in praise and worship
• Inspiring, thought-provoking meditations
• Prayer thoughts to focus your heart and mind on God
• Daily journaling space
Find out more: www.standardpub.com