Thursday, June 23, 2016

Willing hearts

After Jacob's descendants were rescued from slavery in Egypt the next phase of God's plan for the Promised Savior began.

It didn't happen the way you or I would probably do it if we were in charge of making a way for salvation for the whole world.  God, from human eyes, seemed to take a BIG detour in bringing the promised Messiah to the world.

There seem to be so many details, unnecessary if I were in charge, but hey, I hate details that get in the way of my vision.

For example:

God thought it would be a good idea in taking thousands of people through a desert, oh, and while you're walking around, let's make a big tent.  He had the former slaves plunder their slave owners and they took from the slave owners fabrics, jewels, stones, gold, silver, any and everything they could carry, God made it so the slave owners handed over their treasures to the slaves!

See, that's just nuts!  If I were God and rescuing my people from slavery, I certainly wouldn't take the time to gather up souvenirs.  I'd be getting my tail and the tails of my precious children out of there, and right quick as they say in the south!

But, He's got his own way of freedom fighting.

So, the former slaves plunder their owners and start their journey in a desert.  Thousands, tens of thousands of men, women, children, babies, and animals walking in the desert.

I can't help think about the faces of the refugees we've seen splashed on tv through my lifetime.  The Cambodians drifting in boats in a big ocean.  Cuban refugees that were housed on a military base near my home when I was a teenager.  The Syrian refugees of the present day.  Shell shocked and numb looks on their faces, I can't help but imagine that's how these Hebrew slaves looked too.

Did they have even the strength to carry the weight of some of the treasure?  I don't know.  I wasn't there, I can only imagine what the scene looked like.

I wonder if they thought to themselves, What in the world are we supposed to do with this ornate goblet?  They did have difficulty finding water from time to time, a lot of good a drinking glass does a person when there is nothing to drink!

So these thousands of people wander, carrying these beautiful Egyptian treasures, shell shocked and weary, the weight of four hundred years of slavery bearing down on their bent over frames and worn out fingers.

But God had a detail that was going to be created from the very things those weak kneed Hebrews were carrying in their hands.

He was going to build them a tent.  Not just any tent.  A tent that was similar to the tents the Hebrews had seen the Egyptians use to worship their gods.  Only this tent would be used to worship THE God.  Yahweh.

God:  Moses
Moses:  Yes, God
God:  Here's the checklist for my dwelling place - gold, silver, bronze; blue, purple and scarlet yarn, fine line, goat hair, ram skins dyed red

(where on earth am I going to red dye? Moses may have thought as he is writing out the list).

Sea cow hides, acacia wood, olive oil, spices and onyx stones.

Moses:  Check.  Check.  Check.

God:  Now, I need people to do the work.

So who does God recruit?  No one.

He tells Moses, 
"Everyone who is willing is to bring the supplies....all who are skilled among you are to come and make everything the LORD has commanded."

So no one had to get a loan from the bank to supply the supplies.  The math genius' didn't have to help the perfumers.  The carpenters didn't have to help the seamstresses.

"All the women who were willing and had the skill spun the goat hair....all the Israelite men and women who were willing brought to the LORD freewill offerings for all the work the LORD through Moses had commanded them to do..."

See, God provided the supplies.  But having the supplies wasn't enough.  Your heart had to be willing.  And having a willing heart wasn't enough.  You had to have the supplies.

It's funny how God works like that, isn't it?

"Then Moses summoned Bezalel and Oholiah and every skilled person to whom the LORD had given ability and who was willing to come and do the work."

Having the right supplies is only half the list needed to do the work God requires.  The other half is to be willing.

If you're not willing, don't waste your time or God's time.

The interesting thing about the Hebrew word for willing is that the people God was using and giving the will to do the work were former slaves.  For their whole lives they were slaves.  Their parents were slaves, their grandparents were slaves.  They knew no one who wasn't a slave.  For generations.

What skill could a slave have?  What unique gift could a brick maker have in using gold or purple yarn?  What trade school did they go to for their post slave career?  The easy answer is:

  The work they did as slaves was the training ground for the work they would do for their Rescuer.

All that was necessary was to be willing.  To lift their eyes from the shame of their slave past and set them on their Freedom Fighter.  He would give the skill.  He would give the will.

The Hebrew transliteration says it like this:

"And called Moses unto Bezalel and unto Oholiab and every man wise hearted in whose had put the LORD wisdom heart.  Every whose stirred him up to come unto the work to perform."

God stirred up the heart.  He nesah them.  He lifted them, carried them, he made them who they were always created to be, for the use of God's glory.

He made them willing, he gave them the supplies by making the Egyptian slave owners provide them.  They only had to look up and be lifted up....oh, and to hold out their hands to receive the supplies.

So are you willing?  Are you willing to be made willing?  Are you willing to be made willing to be made willing?

It really takes the pressure off to know God provides it all, doesn't it?  No more feeling guilty for not doing more or giving more or serving more.  If you're not willing, it may be because God has not made you willing.

It's something you and Him will have to talk about and figure out.

Don't volunteer for one more thing until you have your talk with him.  You may be getting a lot of pressure from well meaning and desperate folks, but if you are hesitating, it may be God who is pressing his thumb on you to hold you back.

The only willingness needed is the willingness He gives.  The only willingness He gives, is the one he can use.  Don't make yourself something you're not just because it looks like the situation has need of you or your talent.  You may not be willing because God has not made you willing.  (Just double check with Him to make sure your stubbornness is not in the way of His willing you to be willing).  If you have the skill and the Lord has made you willing, than He will make a way for you to get the task completed.

"...every skilled person to whom the LORD had given ability and who was willing to come and do the work...."

He'll provide the tools, the means, the supplies.

Let him, Church.  Let Him.



1 comment:

  1. I learned this lesson so well about 24 years ago when God was calling, asking, me to teach children's church. I was not a children person. I didn't go gaga over babies. I almost never baby set as a teen. But I was a new mother of a 3 yr old at the time. But after I got into it, I found that God used my unique way of relating to children as tiny adults to His advantage. I also had no pride, no sense of embarrassment. Because I was faithful to be willing, after a few years he used me to start a children's church at the church we now attend. The whole experience just totally spoke to me and proved to me that God IS able to equip us for what He calls us to.
    Barbara from Life & Faith in Caneyhead