Hats and sunglasses, that’s what my son likes, and he’s amassing a collection.
When we headed to the beach this week to enjoy the weather, he popped his Paw Patrol baseball cap on his head .
“This is my beach hat,” he announced.
Then he gave me the full run-down. His Batman hat is for playgrounds. His Paw Patrol hat is for the beach. And, when he gets a Star Wars hat , that will be for the aquarium. “My aquarium hat,” he says.
This is funny on so many levels.
For one thing, he doesn’t need an aquarium hat since we are infrequent visitors.
And for another thing, we really and truly just grab whichever hat we can find whenever it’s time to go to wherever we’re going. We have more than one hat precisely because we don’t always know where any given hat is at any given moment.
Hats are essential wardrobe pieces for us. We are fair-skinned folks who burn at the slightest hint of sunshine.
But exactly how many hats does he plan on having anyway?
Specific hats for specific places may not be practical or likely by any stretch of the imagination, and yet I love the idea of valuing place, all the individual beauty and uniqueness of this place and that place.
How something changes in us as we travel from here to there, something about us in those destinations that might even require a new and different hat.
It’s so biblical, isn’t it, the way God’s story roots itself in geography and location? The Holy Land and Mount Sinai, Eden and Bethel ,right on to Bethlehem, to gardens and mountaintops, the Sea of Galilee, the Jordan River.
God’s story in us does the same thing.
There are places that have entwined themselves with my own salvation story: a childhood neighborhood, a college campus, a church, a two-year sojourn in New Jersey, and the long-term settling in Virginia where God continues to work in me.
Maybe certain places in our lives are set aside for a holy work of significance.
Like the way the burning bush drew Moses’s attention out in the wilderness, and how God brought him and all of Israel back to that same holy mountain after they made it out of Egypt.
Or the way Jacob camped out at Bethel and saw a vision of a stairway to heaven and then returned to the same place years later to settle there with his family and build an altar to God.
It helps to know what places have holy significance for us, especially when we’re seeking His face. Where do we go when we want to be alone with Jesus? Where do we go when we’re desperate for a glimpse of Him or to hear His voice? Where do we go when we need hush and peace and a stillness in our hearts?
Where is our Bethel? Where is our Sinai?
Where is the place of spiritual retreat?
For me, it’s a back deck or a porch, just one small step from inside my house to outside my house and there I am, in a peaceful place.
Sometimes, though, I need to run away from the ordinary, everyday. These aren’t long trips, just a drive to the botanical gardens, or to a museum, or the beach–anywhere there is beauty and there is quiet.
My go-to holy place, though, is a mobile one–it’s in a walk The location matters less than the opportunity to stride in rhythm and not talk for about 30 minutes. This is a sacred space for me.
It also helps to know that God does focused work in specific places.
This is Gilgal for Saul. That’s where the prophet Samuel sent the newly anointed King to wait before being presented to Israel. That’s where Saul is crowned. It’s also the same exact place where Saul loses his kingship, as he gives up waiting for Samuel and disobeys God’s instructions (1 Samuel 10:8, 11:15, 13:7).
Gilgal is where Saul both received and lost the kingship.
What if Saul had recognized the significance of the place? Gilgal is where I wait and where God is faithful. Maybe he would have been more patient.
Perhaps this place where you are right now is the growing place or the place of rest. Maybe it is the land of milk and honey or maybe it is the waiting place.
It could be the place of worship or the place of calling. Maybe it’s the place where we’re poured out or maybe it’s the well where Jesus fills us.