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Holy Ground

Blog Headers 2023-24 (5)

Editor’s note: Reflecting on the Scriptural concept of “holy ground,” missioner Joleen Johnson ponders how each person she encounters, created in the image of God, is inviting her to holy ground.

Have you ever thought about why God told Moses to take off his sandals when he came over to the burning bush? The story in the third chapter of Exodus goes: “When the Lord saw that he (Moses) turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, ‘Moses, Moses!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ Then He said, ‘Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground’” (Exodus 3:4-5).

As I took a moment to reflect on the wonderful people God has placed in my life one night, I thought about how intricately created each person I love is, and how highly the people who love them the most ought to regard them. I realized that if God created each person, and if God dwells in each person, then each person I encounter puts me standing on holy ground. God’s presence and His genius inhabits each and every person. Therefore, each time I see someone I am really beholding God’s creation and God living inside that person. I thought about how remembering this realization could impact my relationships and especially my interactions.

I thought about how remembering that I was on holy ground when I passed someone and they unexpectedly stopped to chat with me might change my attitude from, “I have to go get this other thing done, and a whole list of things after that done” to “God is inside this person and they deserve to be reverenced because of that. It’s an honor to behold them in a conversation regardless of whatever else I have to do.” How holy is the ground at a table of multiple people? I thought about how extraordinarily holy the ground must be at Bethlehem Home for kids with disabilities, where I serve. Each dorm cares for up to about 20 individuals, who I’m convinced God intensely, yet tenderly loves. It is an honor to step into that room, and the ground to behold each of these “little ones” has to be very holy because God’s presence flows out of them freely. 

It’s easy for me to accept the notion of being on holy ground with the kids at Bethlehem and with friends and people I like and enjoy spending time with. But what about when I encounter a person who I… don’t enjoy spending time with, or don’t really like? What about people who we are angry with? This one is tougher, but the truth is still the truth. The intrinsic dignity that God has breathed into each and every soul (no matter how much I like that person) presents me with holy ground, too. God created every person and dwells inside every person, even those who seem to make the most evil decisions. To be in the presence of these people, too, is a gift. Even the people who are difficult to live with and forgive are to be honored as sacred, too, because they are. 

Question for Reflection: How does respecting and honoring the presence of God inside of each human I encounter as holy ground affect my interaction with each person? 

Joleen discovered her passion for overseas service during her first mission trip in 2012 to Guatemala. Since then she has served in Haiti and studied abroad in India, teaching English in an elementary school, after which she began to feel the call to longer term overseas service. Joleen is excited to see what God will teach her through FMS, and looks forward to living out His call for her. She is inspired by FMS’s humble and relational approach to ministry.