What am I to learn?

Exo 27:15-17 NLT 15 The curtain on the left side will also be 22 1/2 feet long, supported by three posts set into three bases. 16 “For the entrance to the courtyard, make a curtain that is 30 feet long. Make it from finely woven linen, and decorate it with beautiful embroidery in blue, purple, and scarlet thread. Support it with four posts, each securely set in its own base. 17 All the posts around the courtyard must have silver rings and hooks and bronze bases.

In the last few weeks, I have been studying in Exodus.  Exodus has some great stories, especially if you love learning about history.  Stories that have great significance, and great lessons for us to learn from.  Stories such as Moses and the endlessly burning bush or the gutsy and yet nerve-racking crossing of the Red Sea, by a few million wandering Israelites or the mindboggling obstinance of Pharaoh.  All stories that teach us about who God is and help us know how he designed us to live.  

But one of the topics that I always struggle with in the book of Exodus is the many chapters about the tabernacle.  I mean, there is a whole lot of detail about what the tabernacle should be like.  Put a ring here and a pole there.  A bell here and a table there. Use this color thread and that color gem.  Can you imagine being an Israelite camping in the wilderness, wondering when this uncomfortable lifestyle of camping is going to finally end and then Moses comes down the mountain with building instructions for a great big tent?  I mean those Israelites needed comfort and assurance that things were going to be okay.  They needed to know that they would soon be out of the very dry and dusty desert.  They needed to know that this difficult trip was going to be short and that God was going to make their way unbelievably easy. And Moses emerges from the misty mountain with pages and pages of detailed tent construction, really? 

As a child, I remember a women’s Sunday school class dedicated to the tabernacle.  For twelve or so weeks the ladies of the church talked tabernacle!  My mother loved that class.  It was always packed out.   I would think that class could be a challenge to teach.  Of course, if you were planning on building a tabernacle, studying about it, could come in handy.  But for the average Christian, it is a bit tempting to speed read, skim, or completely skip the entire narrative.  The truth is that the description at times is so detailed that it can feel almost painful to read, especially when you are desperately looking for the Lord to speak truth and comfort into your life and world.  At a time when a pandemic is occurring and the world seems to be melting down; words of truth are needed, and the tabernacle description seems dreary, insignificant and generally not very helpful.  

I start my time with the Lord each morning by opening my journal and writing these words, or ones like them, “Lord, speak to me today!”  And oh, so many times he has done just that.  Those five little words inviting him into my day have been a life-changing kind of habit.  But this morning, as I read through the description of the tabernacle I was thinking, really Lord?  Of all the times to have me reading about this, this moment is not a good one!  How will you ever speak to me today with this Scripture?  What do you want me to learn?  I need to hear from you!  And then I was quiet and I waited and then God began to speak.  Not audibly but to my spirit.   

Today, from this passage I want you to learn more about me.  The amazing detail of the tabernacle, Anne, was a description put there to teach you about my character.  You see, I am a God of the big picture but I am also a God of the details.  I care about the details.  Lots of details.  In fact, in the quiet of your mother’s womb, I knitted you together.  In perfect detail, I made your little fingers and toes.  I made your heartbeat and your stomach digest.  I made your brain think and your voice box to speak and sing.  And if I can do all of that, I can be trusted for every other detail of your life.   

So, as we sit in our homes and wait for this pandemic to blow through, he is here with us.   A God who cared so much about all the little details of how his tabernacle looked, cares so much about us, the ones in which he deposited his very own Holy Spirit.   Maybe you have been wondering if God even knows the world he created is melting down, and seems to be coming apart at the seams and is hardly recognizable.  Oh, he knows and not one bit of it is taking him by surprise.  God is in the big picture and our great glorious God is very much in the details of our lives.  Of this, we can be sure.

The happiest people I know are the ones who have learned how to hold everything loosely and have given the worrisome, stress-filled details of their lives into God’s keeping. Chuck Swiindoll

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