El Shaddai, Our Sanctuary

“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’” – Psalm 91:1-2 (NIV)

 The whir of the landing gear triggered joy. I took a full breath in through my nose, eyes pressed shut, and let the air out slowly through my mouth as if guided by a yoga instructor in cool down exercises. We touched down.

The palms waved to me as I peered out the port-hole sized window at America’s Finest City – San Diego, California. Home. Like riding a bike.

I could not wait to savor a carne asada burrito from Roberto’s taco shop and fall into conversation with my favorite friends like kids jumping into the pool in the summer heat. Magic.

Then to the beach. Take Interstate 5, across the Coronado Bay Bridge to my favorite spot on the planet – feet in the silky sand smack dab in front of the Hotel Del Coronado facing the Pacific.

Deep breath in. Out.

Sanctuary.

My rituals and my habitual visits home meet a need I cannot seem to fill elsewhere. A familiar love that fills in the cracks and patches the wounds of everyday life.

However, the refreshment I experience in the familiar rhythms of home sustain me for a short while. It is good, and it is temporary. Hence, I must return to fill my bucket once again.

As I reflect on my most recent visit back home, I am reminded of the one, true, all-sufficient sanctuary – the presence of God.

She stood at the front of the church, gaze steady on the audience of family and friends all gathered to remember the life of her mom. My dear friend shared a beautiful tribute. I flew home to stand by her as she mourned and celebrated the life of her mom – a strong, funny, sacrificial woman who touched many lives – mine included.

Her mom had been diagnosed with dementia, and there was a rapid decline just a few months ago. I can hold her, Lord, but only You keep record of her tears.

My visit, my hugs, my help for my friend – temporary. Just like the respite I find in traveling back to San Diego.

Sure and sustaining rest, hope, and refreshment is found in the everlasting arms of El Shaddai, Hebrew for almighty, all-sufficient God.  

Pastor Craig Groeschel of Life.Church said it this way in a recent sermon, “God is always ample. His presence is adequate. God is always enough. God is exactly what you need when you need him,” he said, “God is exactly what you need at this moment, in this time, at this place, by His power. El Shaddai.”

 He is our consistent, permanent, all-powerful God. Our rest. Our sanctuary.

Scripture quotation marked (NIV) are taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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