You know those moments when something you’ve considered many times before suddenly strikes you in a totally different way? That happened to me recently. I’m reading through the Bible again this year and in the book of Exodus I encountered again all the details of the creation of culture of the Israelites in the desert. Most of the book is about their laws and customs, along with a detailed description of the making of the sacred articles for the tent of meeting, the mobile temple that served as the house of God while they wandered for 40 years in the desert of Sainai.
It is easy for me to read these sections without thinking about them. After all, why do I need to know about the ancient temple articles and lampstands, the curtains and how thick they were, or the types of fabrics used for the priests way back then? Suddenly, I wondered, where did they get all that gold and beautiful material?
They got it from the Egyptians, the nation that enslaved them for 400 years. Centuries of opression must have felt like wasted time to the Israelites, but from that era, God provided His people the materials for their most holy items and the things used to serve and glorify Him.
In a way, I can relate. I have a daughter who has had a medical and behavioral issue with which we’ve struggled every day as a family for three years. Every treatment that is supposed to bring healing in a few months has yet to work for our little one after much longer. As we start each new intervention, I go through all the same emotions as the Israelites in Exodus – anticipation, excitement, frustration, anger, resentment, weariness and despair. I have felt many times like I’m wandering in a desert with this issue in my child’s life and how it seems to never end. Sometimes I just need to feel like something good can come of it.
Funny how reading about a dusty ancient tabernacle gave me just that! Although I still don’t totally relate to lampstand dimensions and all the bowls and basin descriptions, I can relate to God’s provision of precious material in the midst of what seems like wasted time. Even on a bad day of relapse for my daughter, I see how God is using this problem to bring us closer together, to help me understand her heart better and to help her to trust me (a tricky thing for any child like mine who is adopted out of foster care). I can’t say it’s making me like the wilderness wanderings any more, but I do sense new joy and expectancy in what seemed wasted to me before. That is a truly precious gift!