I have to reiterate what I shared in Part 1 of this post, when I read Exodus chapters 37 & 38 I was profoundly moved by the story of Bezalel. I could sense an atmosphere of awe as he worked to create the elements of worship for the holy tent. It was so clear to me, it was practically visual.
Blown away by what I had read, as I stood, it was as though I heard the words, "Careful intention and purpose." Yes! That was it, that was exactly the sense I had as I read through the passage. Bezalel was a man, but he was a man living his life with careful intention and purpose. The task he was given was of utmost importance, and he treated it as such, and in his dedication, God's will was accomplished, and the Lord, Himself, was glorified. And in my own perception of the story, I imagine Bezalel's own soul was ministered to.
As I laid in bed that night,I turned the words over in my mind continually. "Intention (careful) and purpose." I really felt like the Lord had revealed something to me in His word, and I was clinging to it.
The next morning during my devotional time I was reading a couple verses from Proverbs 9, verses 11 and 12.
and years will be added to your life.
If you are wise, your wisdom will reward you;
if you are a mocker, you alone will suffer. .
As it happened, Proverbs 9, speaking on wisdom, was one of the chapters that I had marked as having a corresponding chapter in the "Unlocking the Bible" books. So I picked up the second volume and flipped through the pages till I found the right chapter. There at the very beginning of the chapter I began to read, and they told me about this obscure character in the book of Exodus named Bezalel! I gasped!
It referenced the verse from Exodus 35:31 that described Bezalel, "and He has filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom and understanding, in knowledge and all manner of workmanship." It talked about how he was a man of purpose, and it talked about how his skills were part of the wisdom God had given him. It talked about how using the talent he had been given with intention, he was able to accomplish God's purpose. Can I just tell you? I was blown away!
I want to go on record to say, I do not believe in coincidence. God-incidences, yes, coincidences, no. It was no accident that God was showing me something amazing in a very "dry" chapter of the Bible only to reiterate the revelation the next morning. God was speaking to me about the importance of "(careful) intention and purpose."
As I type that now, it makes me think of the verse from 1 Corinthians 10:31 that says, "Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." Everything you do, the purpose behind it, is to glorify the Lord.
I went out to face my day on sort of a spiritual high. Honestly, I knew the Lord was speaking to me. I really need to give full thought to all the things I would do or say. So often in life, how often do we sit idly by and without focus, just stumble through, making choices without real thought only to look back on them later with regret. Words we wish we hadn't spoken, places we wish we'd never gone, eating things we wish we had pushed away.
That was a point later in the day for me that the Lord brought the directive to practical right before me. I have candy in the drawer of my desk. I shouldn't but I do, and so often I will open the drawer and stick my hand in and begin to feed my flesh out of boredom, frustration, sadness, whatever emotion demands to be fed. It is not rare for me to be 5 chocolate candies in only to realize I haven't even tasted one. Sure enough that day I got anxious or some other emotion and my hand out of habit went to the drawer. I began to unwrap the candy and I heard in my mind "intention and purpose." Like a snake I let go of the candy.
When I left for work later I remembered as I was getting in my car that I never had gone back and eaten the candy. It may seem like a small victory to you, but for me it was huge. I was so happy when I remembered that I left it there. The next day I went to my drawer because I actually wanted a chocolate, but I grabbed two. The open one, now semi re-wrapped but still on my desk as a reminder, it caught my eye, I laid the second candy down next to it (where it still remains) and took a very small and intentional bite of the other. I had grabbed it because I wanted chocolate.
It was so interesting because as I took the small bite and focused on it in my mouth, I realized it had sort of a greasy texture to it that I actually didn't care for. It didn't taste as good as I had thought it would. When I left at the end of that day, there were two chocolates on my desk, speaking of intention and purpose. Little victories.
I wish I could tell you that it was like this magic turning point in my life, but it wasn't. The chocolates remain but in the last couple days as stress has risen again, my battle to be intentional and purposed has been a losing battle again. Just yesterday over the course of the day I consumed probably more than a dozen packs of fruit snacks, and the reality is, a dozen may be too kind an estimation. I ate enough of them, that my stomach was bothering me and my mouth felt funny. And even today, I got back into the chocolates at work and ate three of them in a half second, nary tasting a one.
Then I saw this word picture. I remember when Jacob was little, and we would go out and walk our big black dog. Stixx, was a big dog, and Jake was a very little person, but it did not change the fact he wanted to walk the dog. If he demanded to hold the leash without my help, it never failed, I always had to go and bring them both back under control. I remember times when Stixx would actually pull Jake over and hurt him. So the only way he could "walk the dog" was if I, his parent, actually held the leash, and Jake would hold onto the leash somewhere closer to the dog. It gave him the sense that he was actually doing it, but the reality was, I was actually in control. I knew it, and so did Stixx, and he behaved accordingly. Jake in his youthful bliss actually had the sense he was in charge, but if I had let go of the leash, or he had insisted on pulling it from me, the battle would have begun and the dog would have been running the show.
Do you see it?? That is so us! Got back to the verse about Bezalel: "and He has filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom and understanding, in knowledge and all manner of workmanship. (emphasis mine) All the intention and purpose that Bezalel was able to exercise came rooted out of the ruling of God's Spirit inside of him. Bezalel may have been holding on to the leash, but God, Himself, was in control.
The fact is, if we begin to think we can control life that big black dog will knock us on our butts. And unlike our family dog who was always just seeking a little fun and freedom with no intention to harm, this dog is life, it is temptation, it is even sin which is a tool of the enemy and he has every intention to not only knock us off our feet, but to have the dog run off and drag us to our destruction, if he can only leave us maimed he will settle if he has to, but make no mistake, his intention is our death, spiritual and physical.
So my revelation that I want to encourage you with is this, as believers, we should aspire to live our lives with absolute careful intention and purpose, and "everything we do" should be done to glorify Him. We need to stop constantly and ask, "what is the eternal purpose behind _________ - fill in the blank with whatever your current activity may be. Is it ok to eat a piece of chocolate for the sake of eating it? Yes, but we must keep the bigger picture in mind. And please, the eating is my issue, you could have an entirely different battle, or it may not even seem like a battle but it requires consideration. Are you the soccer mom who spends three nights a week freezing at practice and your whole weekend out watching games on the field. Fine, but is there balance, or has the soccer field become your house of worship? Have you missed church so many times now, the inclination is not to go back at all? Better check behind you, I think you'll find God has let go of the leash. Is it work? Spending? TV watching? Facebook? None of these things are "bad" but are you being purposed and intentional in doing them, and are you giving consideration to the eternal aspect of your life as you make the choices?
I will warn you clearly though, do not determine of your own free will to be purpose and intentional of your own power. You're going to exhaust yourself quickly. It requires a self-control that on your own, you do not have. The good news is, you do have it available to you.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Galatians 5:22-23 (emphasis mine) It's fruit, grown out of roots abiding in the vine. Jesus said, "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit.." John 15:5. It's very clear, if you want to walk the dog, where you want to walk the dog, or rather, where the dog ought to be walked, you have to let the Lord hold onto and control the leash. Like my Jake so ling ago, hold on to the middle so you can feel a part of things and so the Lord can lead you, and even give you power over the dog, but God is in control. Because Jesus also went on in that very same verse to say, "for without Me you can do nothing."
Just to clarify, I need to remind you all that the word "sin" means missing the mark. So often we want to make it just the big and bad of evil choices, but any time we fall short of God's best for us, there is a level of sin there. If you're a believer, it is under the blood and forgiven, and I imagine that when we get to heaven we will realize we were under grace way more than we actually knew. It's just a fact of life. We live in a fallen world, sin abounds, grace abounds all the more.
So my final exhortation to you is this, think through what you do. For me my mouth is a big issue where the Lord is saying, "INTENTION AND PURPOSE!!!" Both in what I put in it, and what I let out of it. I am doing my best to think about all aspects of my life in how they connect to Who and what I proclaim my life to be all about. I am an eternal being (and so are you) and in light of that, I want to live my life purposefully and intentionally with that fact in mind. "All to the glory of God." So grab hold of the leash, and allow the Lord to direct the steps. The dog of life, sin, time, etc, is on the leash, but he is along for the walk, he is not the leader of it. Walk carefully, but as you walk, make sure the reign of it is in the right hands.