When I was elementary school age, one of our family vacations included a visit to a cave’s interior. You know the kind…where the guide turns out the flashlight and the inky blackness is so thick, you cannot see your hand in front of your face. If you were to try to move, all sense of direction would flee. Yet, if everyone quieted down, you could hear the drip of the water and feel the coolness on your skin. In a “thick darkness” sort of way, the cave became a sanctuary from the outside noise and hot summer sun waiting to reclaim your senses upon exiting.
Desert days make one long for a sanctuary; a place of cool, restful calm. A haven to counteract that feeling of being ‘drug through a knothole backwards,’ as my mom used to say. Sanctuary offers solitude for the soul that has power to even quiet one’s body and brain. It’s not a boring place. In fact, I believe the best of who we are and what we have to offer originates there, alone with God.
David expressed his wilderness longing for a sanctuary in the following verses from Psalm 63:
A Psalm of David; when he was in the Wilderness of Judah. “O GOD, You are my God, earnestly will I seek You; my inner self thirsts for You, my flesh longs and is faint for You, in a dry and weary land where no water is. So I have looked upon You in the sanctuary to see Your power and Your glory…You have been my help, and in the shadow of Your wings will I rejoice.” Psalm 63:1-2 &7 (AMP)
One of the many things I appreciate about David is that he knew the secret of sanctuary. Even when he fled to the desert in an effort to preserve his life, he took his sanctuary with him. God’s covenant with David was forever (II Chronicles 21:7). David believed it was so, which strengthened him to earnestly seek the Lord, whether in a palace or in a cave.
Because he believed, he worshipped. Because he worshipped, he saw God’s power and glory. When he saw such power and glory like no other, he knew the source of his help and thus settled down in the shadow of God’s wings. Come what may when it was time to exit the place of shelter, for now, he was content to rest in the dark and just breathe in the cool air because God had been his help before and would be again. Of that he was sure. So sure, he could sing and rejoice and journal his praises for the likes of us generations later.
What a tender picture of a strong protector. The masculine God of everything spreading his maternal heart over David or you or me like a mother hen gathers her chicks under the safety of her wings.
In that shadowy, cool cave of Heaven’s feathers, you can feel God’s holy breath. You can smell the reviving scent of water. You can hear His soothing voice telling you what your heart needs and longs to hear. You can look upon Him and see Him, even in the dark, for He is the Light in your sanctuary.
Desert journey or palace privilege, you can enter any time. God always leaves the light on.