‘And thou shalt make curtains of goats’ hair to be a covering upon the tabernacle: eleven curtains shalt thou make.’ (Exodus 26:7)
At one time my father-in-law and I ran a mobile home business. People used to accuse us of being in the ‘trailer’ business, but we always levied a 25 cent fine on people that said that. Trailers were for hauling things, transporting something from one place to another. We were in the home business. Sure, you could, if you wanted to, move those 14 x 80 foot babies around, but in our mind we provided people a place to stay, a residence, a roof over their head, simply a dwelling place. I did that for about 6 years and he continued for 28 years, working in that business until he was 80 years old. His numbers, although relatively long, are not the longest for being in the mobile home business. The Father, Son and Spirit holds that record.
I am reminded from time to time of the scripture written above and its association with God’s plan for man. You see, creation was not the beginning of how God thinks about us. Genesis is the record of this creation and the fall of Adam, but long before Genesis The Father, Son and Spirit imagined Adam and amazingly imagined you in a Story that precedes that Genesis beginning. To discover the purpose and intent of God you have to go back to before time, a place outside the universe, where God being Love (the three in one God) searched their hearts about how to live out Their most intimate desires and expressions. The first Chapter of John recites it best. (along with Colossians 1). I won’t go into every detail stated there but the final sum of Father, Son and Spirit was not just to be the God over man but the God with man, and in the most intimate way, dwell in man. Yep, a dwelling place.
Even from the earliest scripture, God is teaching that to make Him a tabernacle, make it and cover it with skin. (Exodus 26:7) The Old Testament was a hint of things to come, when he would not dwell in a tabernacle made with human hands, but one no man had built. (Heb. 9:11) At some point Jesus was going into the mobile home business because this mobile dwelling place is you: a tabernacle, a temple, covered with skin. A mobile home to be used as a tool to love people. Like the first, this one is sprinkled with His blood and sanctioned for ministry. It was and is God’s plan to express and live the God kind of Life not only in you but through you. The old saying, ‘we are His hands and feet’ is truer when understood that The Father, Son and Spirit have come to embrace, to encourage and to build up the Body of Christ through believers. It was never enough for miracles to merely demonstrate God. The Israelites believed in God, they experienced Holy Provision with the parting of the Red Sea, smoke by day and fire by night, manna new every morning, miracles galore and still they wandered around in the desert for 40 years because they failed to recognize the truth about themselves, seeing themselves as grasshoppers instead of people empowered by God.
God has taken the initiative to come to us; even after rejection and sin, He approached and offers to be with us, stay with us, live in us, and that we would be His people. He has approached us and prepared a way for us to know Him, now, all we have to do is simply respond. ‘But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.’ (John 1:12-14) In 1 John 5, scripture states that it is the purpose of God for us to ‘know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and (knowing Him is) eternal life.’ John 14:19-20 says, ‘Yet a little while, and the world sees me no more; but you see me: because I live, you shall live also. At that day you shall know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.’
I’ve written quite a bit about Jane’s health issues while hospitalized in Chicago in 2012, but let me add just a footnote to all that’s been shared. I’ll perhaps oversimplify, but let me just say that God was with us as we processed through the emergency room in Carbondale. After many hours of treatment, we moved her to an ICU unit in Chicago. When we arrived He was waiting for us there. He was present with us. Had taken up residence with us. Never left, never forsook, never wavered on the embrace for the full 4 months of treatment. God is at home with you. He knows something that I think we don’t know sometimes. We are made in His image and as such He has a confidence in who you are when you have lost confidence in that fact yourself. As with those Israelites, it’s not just about what we believe about God but also what God believes about us. There is an embrace in the Gospel that holds on. At the Big Daddy Weave concert we were telling all the guys good-bye and I noticed that I was not ‘hug and three patting’ the guys, I was holding them in a truthful embrace that released respect and appreciation in me and them. God does that to us. God’s embrace is not three taps and gone, His is holding on to us in such a way that releases life in us.
One of my favorite scripture portions is John 17. I won’t include it all but just read this part:
And this is life eternal, that they might know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have glorified You on the earth: I have finished the work which You gave me to do. That they all may be one; as You, Father, are in me, and I in You, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that You have sent me. And the glory which You gave me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and You in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that You have sent me, and have loved them, as You have loved me. Father, I will that they also, whom You have given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which You have given me: for You loved me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, the world has not known You: but I have known You, and these have known that You have sent me. And I have declared unto them Your name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith You have loved me may be in them, and I in them.
That is so profound it’s hard to type. He has found a dwelling place, a mobile home if you will, and he is perfectly peaceful with that decision and perfectly at home in you, and you in Him.