Worship in the Waiting
Worship. Of course.
Worship God. Always.
Worship God now. Now?
It can wait. It can?
The world is in turmoil. Yes …
Life will settle down. Really?
Pandemic and isolation. I can’t focus. Worship.
Injustice and unrest. Don’t add to it. Worship.
Fires, dangers on all sides. I must focus. Worship.
Uncertainty, unsettledness, unpredictability.
Fear, loss, hopelessness.
Still, Worship. God. Now.
The book of Exodus recounts the miraculous story of the people of God being redeemed out of slavery. In a God-glorifying show of power, millions of people are delivered out of Egypt. Now, marching through the wilderness, free from bondage, they head towards the Promised Land.
On the way, the men cannot build homes for their families; the women cannot unpack. Tents are temporary and feel unsettling.
They have no fields to purchase and plow, plant and reap. Training children and passing on family trades are difficult when life is uncertain.
The future is foggy, distant. Plans are … what plans? They wait for the trumpet to sound and the cloud to move to decide on the day’s activities. Utter unpredictability.
They know fear. Fear of the enemy, fear of the desert, fear of lacking on the journey, fear of the future.
They know loss. Loss of routine, loss of predictability, loss of known expectations.
Hopelessness is their companion; it rises with the heat of the day, with the thirst and the hunger.
And God says, “Make me a sanctuary”! Not later, upon arrival, but now, in the desert, He commands for the making of the tabernacle, so that He could dwell with them in a visible way (Ex. 25:8). His dwelling place, this place of worship among them was to be built skillfully, with gold and precious materials, every detail carefully done. Its stunning beauty was intended to display God’s beauty and to point to the splendor of His holiness. God was to be their focus. Even on the journey, in their unsettledness, He wanted their absolute attention, exact obedience and worship.
In the desert, God requested contributions and resources for building the tabernacle. He called them to willingly give of their treasure (Ex 25:2). Giving what they may have thought to need later - with no expectation to be able to replace it - such was the call! In the unknown, God called them to sacrifice.
God expected a sacrifice of resources but also of time. Wasn’t arriving at their destination the most pressing need? Shouldn’t establishing themselves in the Promised Land, building homes, planting vineyards and fields have been THE priority? No. The focus was to be on God, not on themselves. In giving up of their wealth and time, in their obedience to God’s command, in their focus on God and His holiness, they worshiped.
As the tabernacle was built, they discovered more of God’s character and care, of His presence displayed in the various elements of the structure. Their view of God would have grown as the role of the ark of the covenant, the mercy seat, the table and the bread, the lampstand, the oil, the altar, the curtains, and even the position of these elements were explained to them. They would have been forced to see God’s glory, His beauty, and His holiness. Their eyes would have been drawn away from their lives onto their glorious LORD, their Provider, Redeemer, and Rescuer.
So, yes. Worship God now.
In their waiting, and in ours. In their desert and in ours.
God still calls us to worship Him. Normal may never come back, and life may not settle for a LONG while.
In reality though, worship never stops. As human beings created to worship, we certainly do so. The issue is not necessarily our lack of worship, but the focus of our worship. For the Israelites and for us, our hearts are idol-making-factories, and our gods seek to displace God.
What have I worshiped during the last few months? Health, stability, a predicable future, safety, comfort, activism, me, my personal gods, or GOD?
The tabernacle pointed to God’s presence, His holiness and His people’s need. In the desert, their need was to behold God. Has our view of God and of His holiness grown during ‘our desert’? Is the reality of His presence increasingly my hope? Have I been willing to sacrifice today? Am I a living sacrifice to Him?
My worship of the One true God, my Provider, my Redeemer, my Rescuer is now. Worship as the virus persists, unrest flares up, and fire season is upon us. Worship now, in the waiting.