Everyone needs an altar, or two. Not a shrine, but an altar. A place where you had a moment with God that was clear and compelling. Clear, in that it was about God truly being God in you life, and compelling in that your life was captured, renewed or directed by God. An Abraham-like altar, where you stopped wandering and “called on the name of the Lord.” Genesis 12:8.
One of my altars is at the beach that my family has gone to for years, Sunset Beach in North Carolina. One house, particularly, that overlooked the marsh on the back side of the island evoked altar moments. Maybe it was the rocking chairs on the back deck with the great view, or the swing on the front porch, but there was always a place calling for stillness, and calling for connecting to God. And many summers it was, like Abraham’s altar at Bethel, a place to return, to review, to consider what God had done over the year.
We have not rented that house in many years, and most of my immediate family has not been able to join us when we’ve gone. But, we were able to go for two days this week. I rode my bike down to that special house, no one was renting it, and I sat just for a few minutes in the shade on the steps to the dock. Those moments aren’t the only time I ever sit to consider what God has done and is doing, but it is still a special time, a special place.
Do you have a place and a time for an altar? Any place to which you return? It’s easy to set one up. All you have to do is stop wandering and call on the name of the Lord. I think that it is hard to be present to God without altars. Sure, I want to practice the presence of God, like Brother Lawrence, all day long, but there is something different about stopping, returning, tending an altar that represents special times or places. Hmmm . . . I don’t think that we can even be present to our own lives unless we have altars, much less present to God.
Where are your altars?