My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness. -2 Corinthians 12:9 (NKJV)
I think we've all had a time we can point to and say, that was the absolute low point—that was the worst time in my life. Maybe you're even in that place in your life right now. That bottom, or low point, might be different for each of us. Maybe yours was the loss of a marriage or a job. Maybe, it was suffering from issues with body image or food. Maybe it was in a relationship that you couldn't let go of, even though you knew it was hurting you. Whatever that hurt, habit, sin or setback you've had, we all know the pain of feeling lost, hopeless and out of control...feeling our weakness. Well, I believe God wants to meet you right there in that pain. But I know He doesn't want to leave you there. God is in the business of rescuing, redeeming and restoring broken lives and broken hearts.
After a miraculous encounter with God that completely transformed my life and delivered me from my addiction and alcoholism more than 16 years ago, I found myself in the basement of a church. I walked in to a room full of people who, just like me, had been broken by life, by sin, by heartbreak, by addiction. We sat together in our pain and our mess, with boundless mercy for one another. And I found a loving God there who was so ready to draw near to each and every one of us with His healing power and grace. It was there in that basement, in a recovery meeting, that I found sanctuary. And all I had to do was humble myself enough to receive that gift.
sanc·tu·ar·y: a place of refuge, safety, shelter, and protection; a place of asylum and immunity from the law that would punish or bind; a consecrated place; a holy place – set apart from the world and full of peace.
I saw miracle after miracle in that basement. I saw overwhelming joy spilling out of those who had been set free. I saw healing and heard radical stories of redemption. I found hope. And realized that the hand of God was reaching far beyond the box that I thought religion had put Him in. That just like Jesus did when he walked the earth. God had made His home with the people we might least suspect: the addicts, the thieves, the shamed and the lost. God was making His home in the basements of the churches....And His strength was being made perfect in our weakness.
So, what would we in the church look like if we truly began to take the posture of humility that we see in the basement recovery rooms? What would our lives as believers look like if we were walking through life in a community of true transparency and vulnerability - meeting each other with boundless mercy? And what kind of hope-filled victory stories could we each be telling, if we finally allow God's healing power to transform our lives and hearts...and bring us to sanctuary.
Holly Christine Hayes is an author, speaker, world-renowned recovery ministry expert, and Voice for Women of Faith. She has traveled the globe, sharing her radical story of salvation and coming to faith in Christ. Holly spent her teen and young adult life mired in alcoholism and drug addiction, in the grips of a downward spiral that led to a life of trauma, shame, and eventual homelessness. After an encounter with God in a public bathroom in 2001, her life was forever changed. God miraculously healed her and delivered her from her addiction. Her book From Basement to Sanctuary takes readers on a journey from the recovery meetings that gather in the basements of churches to the sanctuary pews, sharing what the two can learn from each other. Holly continues to speak in churches and recovery communities all over the world. From Basement to Sanctuary can be found here.