"He made His dwelling among us." (John 1:14)
I read only a few weeks ago that this verse literally means "He pitched His tent among us."
The same God who gave 40 days of instructions to Moses, including detailed instructions on how to build His dwelling place...right down to the flower buds that adorn the candle sticks...that same God now comes and pitches a tent? Really? Are you laughing at the amazing-almost-absurdity of it all? Because I am. That is our God, always surprising, never quite fitting into the box we want to place Him in.
I have been forcing myself through Exodus. Oh, the first few chapters went swimmingly. Then I hit, hmmm, let's see, about chapter 25, and it was like trying to swim in mud. I don't remember this feeling hitting so early the last time I read through the Old Testament. I remember feeling a big bogged down in Deuteronomy, but not Exodus.
But today, I finished chapter 26, pushed my chair away from the table, and went to pull the laundry out of the dryer. I needed a mental break. And I started speaking the plain truth to my God Who already knew the thoughts in my head anyway...
Your Word is sometimes...what do I say...tedious...Your instructions were tedious...I mean, You deserve fastidiousness but...Oh, I'm so thankful I'm not an ancient Hebrew that has to follow such precise directions...oh...well? I guess I do have precise directions to follow...You are still the same God...I mean, You now make your dwelling in ME and you have very specific directions for me...love, be kind, be patient, be gentle, be self-controlled....
And, God in His omniscience knows that I am really seeking some answers here. No questions are posed, but He knows the questions in my heart... Why? Why so particular, Lord? What does that mean for believers today? Do you expect so much from us? Do we have to build Your tabernacle (in our hearts)? And the underlying tone is one of sheer exasperation: I can't do it!
And, somewhere in this rambling brambling collision of thoughts, He stopped me. I can't remember how He said it exactly, but the general idea was...no, He doesn't have such specific directions for me as He gave to the Hebrews. Because I couldn't follow through with them anyway. The reason He gave them to the Hebrews was to show them that they would always fall short of His perfection. To show them that they needed a Savior. And those specifications still exist--ancient script copied and preserved for thousands of years, Holy Script passed down through the generations--to remind US that we need a Savior. I need a Savior.
And Christ came. The God-man pitched his tent.
Thank you, Lord! Because the thought of building a temple for God overwhelms me. Just reading the directions overwhelms me. But it reminds me of the effort God deserves. I don't have to build Him a tabernacle because He dwells right within me. And, oh! That took me off in a whole other direction...
ME, Lord?! You gave all those directions for Your tabernacle, then you come to live inside of filthy, sin-filled me?
What can I do to clean up this tent for you? You deserve the effort!
Abide. Seek me as treasure. Seek me first and these things--love, joy, peace, patience--these things that dress up my dwelling with splendor, they will be added to you. You can't dress yourself up, but I can. Seek me. Trust me. I make all things new and beautiful.
He is faithful. He covered me with the blood of His Son so I am now holy and blameless in His sight. And still He is working on me. Though outwardly this tent is sagging and dry-rotting and wearing thin, inwardly it is being renewed day by day. And He is not finished. And He promises to not stop until He is. He Who began a good work in me will carry it on until the day of completion.
As I fight the good fight to keep Him my main priority, as I fight to make time for Him, as I seek Him for the treasure that He is, He transforms and renews and makes His dwelling beautiful. I don't have to have gold and fine linen. I don't have to be a skilled craftsman who can hammer out gold menorahs to decorate His house. I just have to love Him with all my heart, soul, strength, and mind...and have faith. His promises are true. He is making this tent into His perfect dwelling. And that, my friends, is no small miracle.