A Few Words about Your Work

By Thursday, February 12, 2015 2 No tags Permalink 0

Warning: this is long, and I wrote it more to myself than for anyone else. If you bear with me, will you share your thoughts at the end?

“And you shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for glory and for beauty. You shall speak to all the skillful, whom I have filled with a spirit of skill, that they may make Aaron’s garments to consecrate him for my priesthood.”
Exodus 28:2-3 (emphasis mine)

I have to tell you, the Lord likes His things to be very fine.

Reading in Exodus these past several days as I work through the Bible chronologically in 1 year (theoretically — give me grace!), there is some mind-numbingly descriptive detail that turns me glassy-eyed sometimes as I drive along listening to that nice gentleman read the Bible aloud. This many cubits, that stone, this wood, such so many things done just so… First the instructions, followed by the description of how the workers followed the instructions to a T!

(I have to be honest that there are moments when I am thinking, “Moses, you are over-sharing here and you didn’t even have Twitter...” Judge me now! I know beyond a shadow that these passages are including for Important Reasons.)

The details are so very fine! God is telling them how to build the space for Him to dwell in their earthly, human, deserty midst. The materials are utterly exquisite — only the best of the best! There is no room for improvisation here. The Lord knows exactly what He wants. What materials, what level of quality, what variety. He has it all planned out, and He brings His people into it.

Yet as I was slogging weak-mindedly through these passages, there were certain words that seared themselves into my consciousness — they seemed so utterly different from the tone of the lists and instructions we were in knee-deep.

“And you shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for glory and for beauty. You shall speak to all the skillful, whom I have filled with a spirit of skill, that they may make Aaron’s garments to consecrate him for my priesthood.”
Exodus 28:2-3 (emphasis mine)

And there was also

“From every man whose heart moves him you shall receive the contribution for me.”
Exodus 25:2

These stood out to me powerfully because of where they appear: an invitation to pick up the open mic, free flowing from the heart, right in the midst of instructions so detailed that not a thread or pebble or stroke of the brush were left to ambiguity. Even when He is giving exact directions and strict standards and unrelenting guidelines for the people to make Him a dwelling place of holy perfection, God makes space for His people to follow the movement of their spirits to contribute. He opens the door for their hearts to be compelled. He allows them to offer something to Him.

BUT WAIT — hold up here for just a moment. You and I both know that all the best shows on TV usually have multiple story lines happening at once. The director cuts back and forth and keeps the attention of myriad viewers because they are invested in one story and will be patient through another that bores them while they wait for an update on their favorite character. But the other thing is that the whole entire cohesive story is told best when several smaller pieces weave the larger theme together.

In a similar fashion, the book of Exodus is weaving another drama while talking about endless details of material design. Here we have the concurrent drama of a very involved and completely holy God who sees all, knows all, and keeps His ancient promises to lead His people into the Promised Land.

In Exodus, as we begin to delve into the design instructions, we have just finished watching Moses do battle at God’s command against the ruler of the ancient world — the Pharaoh of Egypt — to bring the Israelites out of cruel enslavement. We have witnessed how God listened to the cries of the Israelites and did miracles to deliver them into what He had promised — and as these chapters issue His detailed instructions of the place they should make for Him to be at home among them, they are getting bored and restless, building and worshipping idols, and grumbling about how they want to go back to Egypt, back to their prior slavery. It seemed somehow “better” to them than the burden of all this liberty.

Are we not appalled?!?!

And yet, God invites them to be a part of the process. Even though he sees and knows.

(If I can make a contemporary analogy for my own understanding, the best thing that I can think of is a man who has a very broken wife who is easily distracted by other men. While he is fully aware that she is cheating on him with another man, he invites her to contribute her interior design prowess to the brand new house he is buying just for her, with the gorgeous master suite, jacuzzi tub, His & Hers everything. He can’t wait to see what she will contribute for their home together. And while he demands that she gets rid of that other guy, he keeps coming back with fresh ideas and opportunities for them to share their lives and love each other as they were meant to do.)

This may be a moment in time, but this is also a lengthy snapshot teaching us the character of our God. And what this snapshot teaches me?

He has instilled each of us with a skill set intended for us to give. He offers opportunities for us to put those skills to use, and He opens doors for the movement of the Spirit. There is no coercion. There are opportunities. You’re invited, and me too.

Step forward. 

Do not denigrate your skill set.

Get to know it, inside and out. Practice. Get better. Raise the bar higher. Ask more of yourself.

Your Creator loves fine things. He wants to see the best that you have come out of you– it’s what He has given you.

Don’t wait to be pushed. Listen for the invitation. Walk in to the open space and let it flow from your heart until He says that it’s enough. You don’t have to do what someone else is good at — just do what you’re here to do and don’t pressure yourself to be an expert in every area!

Bezalel and Oholiab and every craftsman in whom the Lord has put skill and intelligence to know how to do any work in the construction of the sanctuary shall work in accordance with all that the Lord has commanded. And Moses called Bezalel and Oholiab and every craftsman in whose mind the Lord had put skill, everyone whose heart stirred him up to come to do the work. They still kept bringing him freewill offerings every morning, so that all the craftsmen who were doing every sort of task on the sanctuary came, each from the task that he was doing, and said to Moses, “The people bring much more than enough for doing the work that the Lord has commanded us to do.”
Exodus 36: 1-5

You are not lacking in calling, skill, or potential. Will you step into your purpose and be willing to offer what the Lord has given you to be able to offer it back to Him?

Please share with me a few of your answers to the following questions:

What is your work?
What skills has your Creator instilled in you?
Do you see an open space for you to step in and begin to do what you are made for?
Do you ever feel the need to denigrate your abilities?
In what ways do you look down on your unique talents?
In what ways can you commit to begin valuing them and using them?

2 Comments
  • Barbara Smith
    February 12, 2015

    Good thoughts! Painting, gardening . . . writing remind me God isn’t finished with me yet.

    • workingmoms
      February 13, 2015

      Amen.

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