Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Holy Ground

When Joshua was near the town of Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with sword in hand. Joshua went up to him and demanded, “Are you friend or foe?”
  “Neither one,” he replied. “I am the commander of the LORD’s army.”
   At this, Joshua fell with his face to the ground in reverence. “I am at your command,” Joshua said. “What do you want your servant to do?”
  The commander of the LORD’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did as he was told. (Joshua 5:13-15, NLT)

Joshua recorded these things in the Book of God’s Instructions. As a reminder of their agreement, he took a huge stone and rolled it beneath the terebinth tree beside the Tabernacle of the LORD. (Joshua 24:26, NLT)

The aerial photo in this post is what is commonly known as "Milwaukee Regional Medical Complex".  On this property stands Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, Froedert Hospital, The Blood Center of Wisconsin, Curative Rehabilitation, The Eye Institute, and the Medical College of Wisconsin just to name a few.  I live with my family 28.34 miles away from this medical complex, which we visit more frequently than I care to admit.

Yesterday, I sat visiting with my mother in her hospital room at Froedert Hospital as she recovered from having a cancerous kidney removed.  As she was being attended to by her nurse, I took a long, pensive gaze out her window and suddenly realized that I was on holy ground.  You see, there are parts of this hospital that are in a bit of a U-shape.  My mother's room looked down on the epicenter of so many of my life's crises.  From her window, you could see the Children's emergency room we have visited countless times with our son's serious hemophilia bleeds and our youngest daughter's life-threatening allergic reactions.  Adjacent to that is the Froedert Emergency room where I last heard my father's voice.  Across the surface parking lot and up a few floors I saw the reflective, darkened windows of Froedert's palliative care department where my dad made his glorious departure for heaven.  And right beneath us I looked down on the roof of the lab that has helped us find so many answers to our concerns.

Never before had I viewed this venue as sacred space, but taking it all in at once caused me to pause.  While it has been hard for me in the midst of trauma to think of this place as holy, this complex certainly meets the criteria of the standing stones of old.  Searching the Scriptures reveals the memorials left standing where man had encountered God in a very profound and personal way.  Jacob anointed the stone he had rested his head upon and named it "Bethel" after he had met God the night before through ascending and descending angels.  Joshua and the Israelites memorialized the place where God parted the waters of the Jordan so that they could cross over to their final destination in the Holy Land.  Even Peter wished to construct shrines on the mount of transfiguration where they had witnessed the Holy Savior appear in glory with Moses and Elijah.

Why should a medical complex be any less holy than these?  This is where my tender Lord put his arms around me as I wept countless times in fear for my children.  This is the entry to the mission field that has tugged at my heart as I arrive thinking, "How do families do this without Jesus?"  Here is where I closely identified with the Father as my son screamed out for my help in the terror of being jabbed with his twelfth large-gauge needle in only 24 hours of hospitalization.  And how gloriously I watched my father's home-going as he wriggled free of his earthly shell here on these premises.  Indeed, this is sacred space!

The next time you find yourself in those medical facilities that you dread visiting, remember that the Lord is your very present help in times of trouble.  He is with you.  And that makes the place where you are set apart in a very special way.

Pray:  Father, I may not have the presence of mind to remember, but when the time is right, bring to mind the comfort that you call me to a holy place.  You meet with me right there in the midst of my trials.  Thank You, Lord!


  1. What a beautiful post...

    Our tears and trials bring us to beautiful encounters with our Lord to give us strength and hope in His unceasing love.

  2. WOW, Barb! Thanks! You know what? If we ask He will give us all eyes to see and ears to hear and hearts to understand beauty from ashes and thru it all His abiding presence!
    Love you!

  3. No one could describe it better...Thank you, Barb, for the reminder...it's holy ground, indeed.