Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Tent of Meeting

Chapter 33 in the book of Exodus describes a Tent of Meeting that Moses would set up outside the Israelites’ encampment during their years in the wilderness. This is the place Moses would go to hear the people’s requests, grievances, and concerns. This is also the place Moses would hang out with God. Exodus 33:11 says God would speak directly to Moses, “as one speaks to a friend.” Moses spent so much time with God that his face started to take on a shine or a glow, and this glow was so unnatural that it scared the Israelites. Moses started wearing a veil to avoid making his friends uncomfortable.

Author and Pastor Pete Scazzero preached at our church three weekends ago, and discussed how silence and solitude are critical elements in our relationship with God. Scazzero has a book called Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Day by Day: A 40-Day Journey with the Daily Office. I bought a copy for Dan’s birthday, then bought one for my Kindle so I could practice what Scazzero calls the “Daily Office” with Dan.

Each day’s Office begins with two minutes of “silence, stillness and centering before God” then moves into a scripture reading, devotional, and prayer. The Office ends with two more minutes of silence. In his sermon, Scazzero explained he learned about the Daily Office by studying and living with monks for a short time. Monks practice their Office anywhere from six to eight times a day. Scazzero’s book provides only two per day, knowing our society has enough struggle with even that small amount.

The past two weeks, I start my mornings by lighting a candle, setting a timer for two minutes, then reading the morning Daily Office. I set the timer again for two minutes at the end, to finish with silence. I repeat this process in the afternoon before the kids get home from school. On one of these past days, I realized I have my own version of the Tent of Meeting already set up in my living room because I made a reading nook beside the couch for the kids this summer. I decided to start having my Daily Office in the nook, and it has become my own Tent of Meeting.

Yes, I know the mosquito net in my living room is a far cry from the tabernacle of the desert wilderness, because I don’t have the Ark of the Covenant or the fixings of the tabernacle to furnish my tent.Inside Tent of Meeting by C. Frank Starmer

But I do have one thing Moses had: God. The Almighty. The I Am. And even though I am physically alone during my Daily Offices, I am not spiritually alone. My Father is with me, and we are spending quality time delighting in each other. I thought I’d share a photo of what time in my Tent of Meeting looks like.IMG_5343

During this morning’s Daily Office, the idea of Moses’ Tent of Meeting floated into my mind during the first two minutes of silence. I said to God, “Wouldn’t it be marvelous if I spent so much time with You that  my face glowed?” And then God allowed me to glimpse a general overview of the times in my life when I have been most present with Him: Times of grief. Fear. Pain. Tears. Anguish and despair.

Times of such devastating loss, like when my brother died and my heart went cold before I slowly started visiting God and trusting Him again.

Times of depression and anxiety, like when my first child was born and I came unglued from Postpartum Depression.

Times of bittersweet letting go, like when I carried my fading and dying parents back to their Father.

Times of stubbornness and defiance, like when I laid on the couch – right beside the spot where my Tent of Meeting is now located – and had a tantrum with God about my marriage (and how it didn’t revolve around me – really?).

Times of ache and confusion, like when the job I dreamed of didn’t quite make sense for me anymore.

God granted me these glimpses as a reminder of this truth: the more heartache I have in my life, the more time I spend with God.

Here I am, in my Tent of Meeting, telling God how I’d love to glow for Him. Yet I know that spending time with Him hasn’t always been a natural response for me when things are going peachy in my life. I’ve gotten to know God best through anguish and raw vulnerability. Approaching Him again and wanting to glow from my time with Him means there may be pain involved, too.

Am I okay with this?

My human response shouts to get off my fanny and run screaming from this insane idea of Meeting in Tents and, instead, get myself buried in a safe cave where Nobody. Can. Hurt. Me. But my spiritual self, the one that trusts in my Daddy’s love, says that nothing can harm me when He stands beside me. He wins, period. And because I’m His, I win, too.

Maybe the shine on Moses’ face was there because his face was wet with tears. Maybe the tears were from pain, but what if they were the tears that escaped his eyes when he sat with his Best Friend in the holiness?

Yeah, me too.

Friday, September 12, 2014


Last week, God gave me a beautiful reminder of how He has adopted me into His family.

Through two high school friends, I know a family of missionaries who are moving from North Carolina to South Dakota. A few months ago, the parents (Michael and Nicole) drove their five daughters from North Carolina to South Dakota, to visit the church they are going to pastor. They needed a place to stay for one night on the way there and one night on the return trip home, and my high school friends asked me if I could provide a room for the night. Dan and I happily opened our home for the weary travelers.

The first night (on their trip to SD), I never even met them because they arrived and went straight to bed before I got home from a meeting. They were gone the next morning before the kids and I were awake for school. The second night (on their return leg), I got to meet the parents and daughters. They told me about their trip, their plans to move to a Native American reservation and lead a church, and their family dynamics. Their youngest daughter, Katey, is two years old. She is their foster daughter, and they were waiting to make her adoption official. It was going to become official somewhere near the beginning of September, and they were hoping to be moved to South Dakota just in time for that.

When the family left my house the next morning, I didn’t think I would see them again. I promised to keep in touch by text and maybe send them a care package once they arrived in South Dakota.

About two weeks ago, Nicole contacted me and said the family was making the big move the week after Labor Day. They were excited to be on their way, but the adoption process ended up with a little hiccup: the court was ready to finalize the adoption and scheduled the appointment for the day they would be driving through the Midwest. AAACK! Nicole was wondering if they could stop at my house and Skype with the judge at 1:00pm before they continued on their drive to South Dakota. I agreed and was here when they were ready to stop.

It turns out the courthouse firewall wouldn’t let Skype operate properly, so the family was lined up in front of my computer and ended up on a speaker phone with the court clerk instead.IMG_4965

Michael and Nicole were sworn in, and then they were asked a series of questions: Have you created a bond with Katey? Yes. Are you petitioning the court to change her name? Yes. Do you agree to take responsibility for her even back to the day of her birth? Yes. Are you aware of her developmental delays? Yes. Do you understand what it means to care for a child with delays? Yes. And then, the question that rocked my heart:

Knowing all you know about her background, do you still want her just the way she is?

Of course, Michael and Nicole answered, “Yes.

As soon as I heard those words, they reverberated in my heart as God reminded me He feels the same way about me. It’s as if someone asked God, “Knowing all you know about Elizabeth’s background – her delays, her sins, her waywardness, her disobedience, her brokenness, her faults and failures – do You still want her just the way she is?”

And God answered with a resounding, “YES!”

It is astounding to be reminded in such a literal way that God adopted me into His family. He bonded and grafted me on to the Vine, changed my name, accepted responsibility for me even before my birth, and agreed to take on the heavy burden of teaching me how to function in spite of my delays. He loves me that much! (And He loves YOU that much too, you know…)

I am honored that He looks at me now and says, “That one is MINE.”

“God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.” (Ephesians 1:5 NLT)


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