The map showed 700 acres in famous Pike County, Illinois. And it was ours to hunt – 4 of us, that is. We had planned on this hunt for months and knew we would be arriving at the prime time for the rut. The outfitter showed us where some of the best places to put a stand were, but also wanted us to scout the day before we were scheduled to hunt. The 700 acres were broken down into three sections; the east side, the west side, and the sanctuary which lay between the two and to the north. This was the animal’s haven. It was home plate. It was the place to reach after running the gauntlet of bows and bullets. And they seemed to know it was off limits to hunters. We could hunt on the edge of it and even on the thoroughfares that ran to it, but the sanctuary was the exclusive area for bucks and doe alike.
Sanctuary is not a word we use very often. But when we think of an animal’s sanctuary our mind easily moves to the correct definition. It is a place off limits to controllable predators. It is a place set aside as a safe-haven and has a greater protection under the law. It is meant to allow animals to roam without undue pressure that comes from outside this area. Now think ahead to the place that Christians call a sanctuary. It is normally thought to describe a building or more particularly a room. And while I don’t prescribe to one room being more special than another, I do like the idea of “sanctuary.” If there is one place one must be able to go and feel safe it is to a local church. Not only physically safe, but safe from the difficulties and even misunderstandings that come from living outside the presence of the sanctuary. This safety does not come from a building but from the people within. Let’s make sure when others make it to our sanctuary, they receive the encouragement and acceptance that can only come from this special place. If they do, we can be sure when the outside world brings unwanted pressure, they will come running back to the place they know is safe.