Almost a decade ago, I had finally saved enough money to purchase my dream dining room table. The one I’d been drooling over for years. The one I’d planned a million events around in my daydreams about how our family and life would be that glorious someday when we had children and neighbors and a church to fill the table.
I found one of the tables at the outlet store, about four hours south of me, and on a whim, decided to take a personal day from work, rent a truck, and drive down to make my daydreams come true. When I called in to tell my boss, she convinced me to wait until after lunch and she’d go with me.
It was a wonderful trip. Although, I feel pretty certain she didn’t realize we were driving so far. We passed two other outlet malls along the way. But she was a good sport.
The rental car company didn’t have any trucks to rent so I got the largest vehicle they had. A small SUV. And I thought for sure it would be fine.
We drove the entire four hours back crouched underneath the table sticking up over our seats and above our heads.
I leaned on the steering wheel for every single mile of that trip. I dropped my boss off at her ranch and finally pulled into my driveway just after midnight, with my table and a very serious pain in my back.
Dream come true!
My beloved table can easily seat 16 people. And this is the first house we’ve owned where I have a dining room large enough to open that baby up all the way.
There is something sacred and holy about the space where we gather to break bread together.
Our very own holy ground inside our home.
Last week, we looked at the story of Naaman, rolling up to the king of Israel and the prophet Elisha like he was important and wealthy and worthy of healing. The great commander of the Armenian armies came searching for healing and he expected it to be spectacular.
Instead, he got was a text message from Elisha telling him to dip in the Jordan river seven times.
Take a bath.
Healed, exactly where he was and smack in the midst of the ordinary.
This week, we’re picking up the story as Naaman returns from his bath.
(In the case of confusion, read last week’s post here.)
Two Mules of Holy Ground…
Okay, so Naaman is fine. The bath worked. The ordinary brought healing.
Obviously, he wants to thank Elisha properly. And since he’s got all this STUFF he’s carted all this way, he offers it to Elisha.
Maybe some silver, a few outfits, a couple of pounds of gold.
Only Elisha wouldn’t take it. He was not impressed and had no need of Naaman’s stuff.
Naaman, so moved by his healing in the ordinary, Elisha’s refusal to take a single item as thanks, and maybe, just maybe, starting to get the miracle of the Lord of Israel, he instead asked Elisha if he could load up two of his mules with earth.
He wanted to take back the dirt of the place of his healing so he would only offer sacrifices to the Lord on that dirt. On holy ground.
Naaman, sick and unclean, approached the man of God with all the spoils of worldly victories, gifts of immense value and importance, but he left, well and clean, with two mules carrying loads of dirt.
Naaman released the spectacular and received holy ground.
Our Holy Spaces…
I grew up in church. A traditional Sunday morning, Sunday evening, Wednesday night activities church. Sunday School came first and then big church, complete with choir robes and sanctuary flowers provided by member families. We got a bulletin to stuff in our bible and used hymnals for congregational worship. I participated in GA’s and Bible Drill and Disciple Now weekends. Traveled in buses for youth choir tours and trips to Carson-Newman college for Centrifuge.
After church, Mom and Dad would stand around visiting with folks before getting in line to welcome new members. Sometimes it felt like we were the last people to leave.
Have you ever stood in a church sanctuary when it’s almost empty?
I remember it feeling so BIG and cold. Like when the people left, they took the life right out of the space. No one lives there. No one really even works in a sanctuary, at least not for more than cleaning and putting those hymnals back in order on every pew.
As I write this, I am sitting in my house, kids across the street at a friend’s house, Dr at marching band something or other, and even though my family is absent, the house still feels warm and inviting.
And the contrast between the two spaces has me thinking about Naaman and that dirt he took with him from the place he found healing. He wanted to offer sacrifices to the Lord on that dirt, not the earth of his homeland, but the land where he found salvation from death.
On Sacred Ground…
Sometimes, it’s hard in our every day, walking-around life to remember God is not confined to our sanctuaries and worship centers and youth camps. Jesus came to live a perfect life and stand in the gap for us, defeating death and reconciling us to a holy God. And He said, “I am with you always, even until the end of days.”
Jesus changed everything.
In Him, we no longer have to remove our shoes and make sacrifices and be made clean through our own efforts to follow the law. In Christ, we are robed in His righteousness.
And He goes with us everywhere and where He goes, where we go, THAT becomes our sacred ground.
We no longer live like Naaman, packing our mules with dirt from holy spaces. Instead, we live free and victorious in Christ’s sacrifice that covered everything we are and do.
Our Ordinary, Sacred Ground…
Maybe the reason that large sanctuary with wooden pews and teal carpet felt so big and cold was because, without the people, without three or more gathered in His name, it was simply a building. Nothing holy or sacred about it. Spectacular in its beauty, respected and cared for, certainly. A physical sacrifice and representation of our commitment and wonder of our Savior. But, still, just a really fancy building.
And maybe the reason my home, with toys all over the floor and chocolate milk stained couch, feels warm and inviting, even without my people, is because Jesus is here with me. He entered our world in the ordinary, not-even-worth-describing room, and from that unspectacular place, He went on to live the life we never could, pay the debt we could never pay.
He promised to always be with me and He keeps His promises.
In the middle of my messy, ordinary house, Jesus sits with me. He guides me as I write. He lives in my praise as I sing along to my worship playlist packing lunches. He reads bedtime stories with me and soaks up the sweet sounds of my miracle Littles rattling off their thankful lists each night.
God went to a whole lot of trouble to release us from meeting Him in the spectacular of burning bushes and talking donkeys and elaborate temples with scared spaces only priests could enter. He sent Jesus to change all that.
Jesus is everywhere and in everything, because He is always with us.
Jesus is in my every day, unspectacular walking on holy ground life.
Grateful for Everything…
Our ordinary, walking-around life overflows with the sacred, the holy ground because Jesus goes where we go and is in everything we do, have, and give.
As you prepare your Thanksgiving turkey, be grateful because He is there.
As you laugh with family and friends around your table, be grateful because He is there.
As you walk the Target aisles or search the Amazon sales, be grateful because He is there.
As you wrap presents, decorate the tree, rake the leaves, mix the cake batter, be grateful because He is there.
As you worship with your church, as you read the story of Christ’s birth, as you listen to the precious voices of the children’s choir, be grateful because He is there.
As you sit at your table, as I sit at my dream table, over-flowing with loved ones and God’s abundance, be grateful.
In “your every day, ordinary – sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life,” be grateful.