What’s your dream? What is that thing you’ve wanted to do or accomplish for years? What’s that fantasy you return to over and over, thinking “just wait until they see me ___”? I bet it’s a good one. Your castles in the sky are platinum, glittering and promising. But now…back to earth. How likely is it that you will accomplish that dream? What’s standing in your way? Will anyone really be able to see you reach the summit of your goals?
The jury is out on our dreams, but God’s dream certainly was coming true. In chapter 36 of Exodus, construction of the tabernacle is still in full swing. Materials are still being donated and donated and donated until Moses literally has to tell the Israelites to stop giving so much (verse 6)! Carefully and with extreme detail, the men and women continue to craft and weave and sew, creating not just a beautiful tabernacle, but a sturdy, durable one. Closer and closer looms the finish date. Brighter and brighter gleams the dream.
The Treasures Within:
Creating Something Beautiful
The tabernacle was not like our churches today. Step into most Protestant churches, and you see plain pews, white walls, and perhaps a few stained glass windows or colorful banners. “Beautiful”, “stunning”, and “gorgeous” are not really the words you’d conjure up to describe these buildings. Yet those words describe the tabernacle God has commissioned the Israelites to build! Acacia wood, gold, finely twisted linen! Weeks of work done by hundreds of skilled Israelites! This creation was something to marvel at, and it wasn’t a secret.
Christians have a weird relationship with art sometimes. Perhaps we see beautiful things as traps – too much pretty stuff and we’ll get prideful. Perhaps it’s seen as wasteful – the extra time and care taken to go the extra mile to create something beautiful could be used in prayer! or Bible study! Yet the gist of the creative endeavor described in these chapters of Exodus seems to be heading down a different path. They seem to say that God wants us to create something beautiful for Him. It could be a painting, a ministry, a short film, or a novel. It could be a sermon, a social media post, a handmade tract, or an act of hospitality. Whatever it is, He wants us to take our time, as did Oholiab and Bezalel: slowly, intricately, the Bible describes how they put together the tabernacle, bit by bit, piece by piece. God wants us to carefully plan our creations, dreaming about them, outlining them, designing them to make sure they are sturdy and well-built. Make God something good. Make God something beautiful. If the Israelites are any indication, it is a joyful journey.
But how long does it last? How many beautiful things should we create for God? Can you have too much of a good thing? Well, just look at the Israelites. They were enjoying their service to God so much that they gave too much. The Israelites had so much they wanted to do for God that eventually Moses had to tell them to dial it down. That’s almost too good! You almost want to groan at how lovey-dovey the Israelites were being to their God. But imagine if we were like that! Imagine if you and I were so overflowing with gifts and talents and creations and sacrifices to place at the feet of Jesus that He had to ask us to stop, to dial it down? Why isn’t that us?
There is always something to do for God, but it seems like at the same time, there’s always six more things we can do for ourselves. We stuff ourselves to the brim with the self-congratulatory notions of self-care and “doing me” and being kind to ourselves, all of which are good, great, and important messages in their place, but do we take it to the extreme? Is that our favorite focus, our main go-to, when self should be a secondary priority? I mean, look at who God is, what He promises, what He has for us. It seems to me that it is just as good for our heart, our mental health, and our overall well-being to serve Him every waking moment, and then some.
God’s Message To Us:
“Worship Me through creation.” Who doesn’t know the J Moss song “We Must Praise”? If I were a writer, I would use a pencil…a prolific dissertation, if I was a speaker…I would use my hands, if I were a potter…no matter who or what we are, we must praise. We had that song on repeat because it was good and because it was true. And relatable. We use our talents. We use them to praise. We use them to create. We use them to make something good for God. It’s not just the function of the tools we have, but the natural activity of our very blood, our genes, and our DNA. We are the children of a Painter, of a Speaker, of an Author, of a Singer, of a Storyteller, of a Potter, of a Creator. God created you and He created me to dream and plan and create. So take those dreams and goals and castles in the air and turn them into something beautiful for the Lover of our souls. Make a joyful noise unto the Lord all ye people – no matter who or what we are, we must create.
What do you think? What skills, talents, and gifts has God given you that you can use to create for Him? What was God trying to tell you through this chapter of the Bible?