In 1999 my husband suffered a traumatic brain injury. In 2010 both my parents had cancer and passed away within three months of each other. Caregiving and the lessons in faith that it brings seem to be defining features of my life.

Besides the memories, there were two things my parents left us. My dad left photos. And mom left recipes. In abundance. Dad could be defined as the one who captured our family moments and kept us connected through technology. Mom kept us connected with her holiday meals. No potluck style when she was the cook. She insisted on preparing the whole meal.

I have her hutch, with some of her lovely dishes, in my dining room. And Dad’s computer desk sits proudly in my living room, too, a reminder of the way he stayed in touch with his family through those last years.

Have you ever thought about what defines God?

He defined Himself back in Moses’ day by instructing them to build a sanctuary. There were some pieces of furniture in this dwelling too that were designed to remind us of God and who He is.

First, there was a gate in the outer court. Psalm 100:4 tells us to “enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise.” God is worthy of praise.

In this court we find the bronze altar, where the animal of sacrifice was killed. John the Baptist announced that Jesus was “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). God is our Sacrifice.

Also in this outer courtyard stood a laver, a place for cleansing. In Psalm 51:2 David expresses what this furniture is for. He says, “Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.” Furthermore, he asks God to “create in me a clean heart…and renew a right spirit within me” (v. 10). God forgives sin and changes hearts.

The Holy Place is the first room as we enter the sanctuary or temple itself. Here we see a lampstand, a table of showbread, and an altar of incense. Three powerful symbols or reminders of Jesus as the Light of the World, the Bread of Life, and the One in whose name we pray. This room reveals God as the means of our salvation and shows how we can share Him with others by partaking of Him ourselves.

Finally, the Ark of the Covenant in the Most Holy Place constitutes the most glorious depiction of God that we’ve been given. How beautifully God is defined here, as a God of mercy and justice.

I find myself drawn to the sanctuary at times, just as I’m drawn to the hutch and desk in my house that remind me of my parents.

When was the last time you took a look at God as revealed in the sanctuary? Although the services and ceremonies that pointed to the Messiah have been suspended here on earth, we can benefit from the symbolism that so totally defines our God and reflects the story of salvation still carried on in the heavenly sanctuary today. See Hebrews 9:24 and know that the sanctuary is still worthy of our complete and meditative study.

Scripture references from the KJV