When the people of Israel, still called Hebrews were on their way to the Promised Land, slavery in Egypt just a short time behind, and the Land of Jordan still 40 years away, something amazing happened. They stopped to build a “Tabernacle” a place among them that represented God, a place God could enter and where they could meet God. It wasn’t an idol like they were so familiar with back in Egypt, it was something very new.
They did the best they could with what they had. They cut ragged sections of acacia wood and measured and trimmed pieces of Goat skin adding a few hand hammered containers. It probably looked something like a wooden fort kids built in the woods in days gone by using available wood and mom’s old sheets and blankets. In other word the tabernacle was really somewhat pitiful. Compared to the amazing structures, the pyramids and temples, back in Egypt it was even pathetic. But they did what they could with what they had and dedicated it to God
When they were completed the miracle happened, a miracle that would not have happened if they had not done their part. The Holy Spirit, the Shekinah glory of God filled the sad structure and made it glorious. It was an amazing moment.
And so it is with the Church, with the Christian life. We do what we can with what we have. But, and it is a serious but, if the Church and the Christian does not do their best with what we have, then nothing happens, no Shekinah glory, no Holy spirit.
This has both comforted and challenged me through the years. I knew I had to lead my Church to do and be the best we could with what we had. If we did I believed God would fill our efforts with the Holy Spirit and glory. I also believed the same about my own life, that if I gave all I was and had, then God would do the same filling of my own life; I did not have to give who I used to be, or who I wish I was, just who I am. It has always been enough.
My experience has been that most of us are made of acacia wood and goat skins put together as best as possible. My experience with Churches tell me this is even more true, we put together our buildings, staff, structure, leadership, worship, programs, Etc. as best we can, doing what we can with what we have. And the Church is filled with the Holy Spirit and the Shekinah glory of God.
In my way of thinking this is the partnership laid out in the tabernacle building process in the Sinai Desert, and affirmed again at Pentecost when a haphazard group of men and women gathered in Jerusalem, hoping and praying, were filled with the Holy Spirit, and went out and turned the world upside down.
Its the challenge given. If we are Church leaders and pastors our job is to put the church together as best we can with what we have, tying pieced of acacia wood and goat skins together. And if we are Christians, our job is to read the Bible, pray, give, put the pieces of the Christian life together the best we know, the best we can, and then it’s God’s job to fill us with the glory and the spirit that makes it all work.
The Church, all of us are pieces of acacia wood and strips of goat skin. And that’s all we have to be, because its the Spirit and Glory of God that makes each of us and the Church what is is, special, powerful, and enough to open the doors to the Promised Land.
God give us success!