Beloved Tabernacle

Panoramic view arava vally Desert , israel.Before King Solomon built a proper temple, the nation of Israel wandered through the desert, worshiping in a tent. But not just any tent – it was, perhaps, the most beautiful and remarkable tent that has ever been constructed by man. It was built without power tools, according to the instructions God gave Moses, and it included a frame of carved acacia wood overlaid with gold, curtains of finely woven linen in intricate designs, utensils of pure gold inlaid with gemstones, and even a water-proof covering of dugong hides. (This probably means it was much more beautiful inside than out, fitting to the point I want to make.) It was large enough for hundreds of people to worship in its enclosures and yet portable enough to be carried by hand. You can read about it in Exodus 36-40.  The Israelites transported this tent through the desert on their wilderness wanderings, setting it up as their central hub when they camped and watching in awe as the visible Spirit of God settled upon it. At all times it was kept according to the rules God established for its purity as His dwelling place. The cost of such a thing would be practically incalculable today, pointing to the great value it had in the sight of God and all His people. It must have been a strange scene, this beautiful, costly, intricate, holy structure being moved around a barren wasteland with the Spirit of God hovering around and within it.

It is, perhaps, even stranger to realize that we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” (2 Cor. 6:16, NIV) To belong to the Kingdom of God is always to be a stranger in this fallen world, to wander far from home, following the Spirit’s lead. It also means that you and are the beautiful, costly, intricate, holy home which God has determined to keep in this wilderness. He has constructed your frame and equipped your hands according to His design. Your purity is His purity. Wherever you move, He lives. And if a tent made of perishable materials could be the most treasured heart of God’s interaction with the world, then you are precious beyond measure in His sight.

When the nation of Israel was fully established in the Promised Land, their tent of worship was superseded by an even more glorious temple building. And so it is with us. Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. (2 Cor. 5:1, NIV) We long to know that eternal home, but until that day, do not forget the incredible beauty, purpose and value you have in this world by virtue of being the tabernacle of God.

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This post was a collaborative effort with many thanks to Dawn Bradley.

 


 

Learn more about the Tabernacle:

The Tabernacle Place

Beth Moore study of the Tabernacle

Super Crip: Able to Leap Tall Buildings in a Single Bound

Super crip is a term used in the disabled community for heroic, exceptional people with disabilities in the public eye. For example, several amputees have strutted their mechanical stuff on Dancing with the Stars recently. One national media outlet described the inspirational spectacle this way: “Double-amputee Amy Purdy … hasn’t let her disability slow her down.” Because I am also an amputee, friends and acquaintances have mentioned the show, suggesting I watch it. I know they find the courage and persistence of the showcased super crips inspirational for their own lives and hope that I will, too. However, there is a hidden message in there which was actually spoken aloud to me recently: “If they can dance at a world-class level with prosthetics, why don’t you walk better?” It was a TSA agent, swabbing my artificial leg for explosives, who took the opportunity to describe an incredible dance performance to me this past month. She followed up by asking if I was a very recent amputee, and when I told her I lost my leg to cancer about 30 years ago she articulated the question others have unwittingly implied. If amputees can be runway models, Olympic athletes and dance stars, then why have I let MY disability “slow me down?”  Why do I limp, walk stiffly and occasionally fall?

Surely, most people don’t actually think about this angle when they recommend the programs they have enjoyed. I think there is a generic quality to their appreciation – if a person with an acute disability can accomplish such a feat, then other people can accomplish their own dreams through hard work and an optimistic attitude. It’s my own internal voices which compare me to the outliers, but I still don’t really enjoy the experience. It feels a little like asking an overweight person if they watch Biggest Loser.

So, I want to take this opportunity to explain what I cannot say in the moment. Every amputation is different. Every amputee is different. In fact, every disability of any kind is different. I lost my leg near the hip joint, and all the soft tissue was removed from the stump and replaced with tissue from another part of my body. That means I have little leverage to lift and move my prosthesis, and I don’t have the musculature to do it well, either. In addition, I have only recently succeeded in using a suction socket because I have so little surface area to which it can be attached. That means my prosthesis must be simple and light or it will pop right off! No heavy bionics for me, and even if I had a terrifically expensive carbon fiber athletic foot, I wouldn’t be able to manipulate it.

But I am SO grateful! My prosthetic leg is a good friend. Not as comfortable or flexible as the one God made, yet an incredible blessing which has allowed me to live a full life in so many ways. Before my prosthetist found some new material (thank you, NASA) and creatively structured my latest leg, I had to wear a belt around my waist to keep it on, and I suffered numerous abrasions and infections over the years. But I am pain-free most of the time now, and I never think (anymore) about the things I can’t do. I enjoy the ones I can.

How would I like you to respond to this post? Well, if you have a personal experience of disability or the super crip phenomenon, I’d love to hear your thoughts. My intention is not to heap guilt on anyone about things said to me in the past, but simply to raise public consciousness about the continuum of ability of which we are all a part. Share your Dancing with the Stars story with the teenager who doesn’t think they can make the soccer team or the employee who is falling short of their sales quota. But consider your audience when you think about sharing it with disabled acquaintances. If you know me well, I’d love for you to ask me what I think about the show you enjoyed. If you don’t know me well, if, for example, you work for the TSA, then maybe stick to the weather.

Tiger, Tiger Burning Bright…

a blog about anxiety

Tiger - digital art
Last Tuesday I turned a corner and came face to face with a wild tiger. You can only imagine the pounding of my heart as a million butterfly cocoons hatched in my stomach, my hands started shaking and my breath came in ragged gasps. OK, it might not have been an actual tiger hiding between the shelves of a restaurant supply warehouse, but that’s exactly how my body responded. If you had been there, YOU might have seen a difficult, four-hour national exam waiting for me to sit down at the computer (and, yes, it was actually in the back of a restaurant supply store). It’s the first time in several years that I have been so anxious, and I thought I’d take the opportunity to share with you a few things that were helpful to me.

  1. Breathe. Taking three deep breaths helped reset my respiratory system for a few minutes, at least. I did this several times during the four hour testing period. It seemed to help my concentration, as well.
  1. Pray. Praying not only gave me access to the only Person who could possibly help me under the circumstances, but it also reminded me that there is a much bigger picture than the one staring me in the face at that moment.
  1. Stretch. My stomach muscles were bunched and painful, not only during the exam period but both before and afterward. Standing and stretching provided some temporary relief and helped me calm down a little bit.
  1. Accept. The biggest change in my Tuesday experience, compared to anxiety reactions I’ve had in the past, came from my tolerance of it. Instead of worrying about how the anxiety would impact my exam results, growing frustrated at my inability to extinguish it or shaming myself for it, I told myself that I would just be anxious for a while and that was OK. A little anxiety is helpful in academic settings, and even if mine was over-the-top, it would eventually subside, and I could let it be.

I sometimes tell clients that the important thing is not to get rid of all your fears (not a very practical goal, either) but not to let them stop you from doing the important things you want to do. Jesus was not without anxiety before He went to the cross, but it didn’t stop Him from completing His mission. In a way, I think I feel better having faced the tiger of anxiety and surviving it intact than I would have if I’d never faced it at all. It’s not courage if you are never afraid, is it?


Related Resources:

Anxiety Handout

How God Can Use Anxiety for Good – Christianity Today

A Prayer about Anxiety – Scotty Smith