“And let them make me a sanctuary that I may dwell in their midst.”
The middle of Exodus isn’t entirely interesting, full of instructions on how to build the tabernacle, all of measurements and materials. So much detail is included, the exact size of all the elements, what materials should be used for each one, where it will be located, how it will be used. Chapters and chapters of this. When you don’t know how big a cubit is and have no idea what acacia wood is, it’s easy to glaze over these sections. But this caught my attention.
… and He has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, with intelligence, with knowledge, and with craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs… And Moses called… Every craftsman in whose mind the LORD has put skill, everyone whose heart stirred him up to do the work.
When I read the Bible, I generally never see myself in any of the heroes that valiantly come to life in the pages. Kings and queens, slaves and soldiers, prophets and spies. I am none of those things. I don't defeat armies or spy out foreign lands. I don't save entire races of people or approach injustice with fearlessness. I'm just a creator, someone who likes to make beautiful things. Most days that doesn't feel so heroic. But then, just as I was feeling some scarcity of noble deeds, there they were, my people, the artists, the creators.
There are days I get easily burdened by my art, having an emotional, feeling, vulnerable spirit, one that pours every ounce of strength and sweat into the work. It's a sacred thing. And it’s not just work, not just a job, it’s personal. It’s like the thing you do is this living entity that draws air from your lungs and feeds on the depths on your soul. It demands attention.
When this part of you becomes what you do for a living, what you do to survive, it’s easy to fall out of love with it. It’s easy to look at it with hateful eyes because the thing that used to be only yours is now something you use to please and serve others. And that sometimes feels like selling out.
But that part of myself, its not really mine, is it? You and I both were filled with skill and craftsmanship by the greatest Craftsman.
What if we started seeing our art as the dwelling place of God? The words we write carry the hope that comes from the Savior of the world. The colors we paint speak of the love that rescued and rescues again and again. The images and the life and the beauty that we capture reflect the magnificence of the Creator of it all. The songs we compose float into the world whispering of the joy and the journey of a life lived in Love.
I wonder what would happen if we started approaching our art with purpose, if we made it to be a small piece in the larger work being built. These words and lines, these layers of paint, these designs… become places God can and will dwell.
And it doesn’t have to be the world's definition of art. It's the way we gracefully nurse a sick patient back to health, the smile we give to a waitress having a bad day, the way we cook and serve a meal to the people we love.
These little pieces of art we create, the way we create them, the way we live, they become His sanctuary. He dwells among the lines and the notes and the smiles and the words we release.
Before Jesus sacrificed himself for us, God's presence on earth existed in the Holy of Holies, the most sacred part of the temple, separated from the rest of the world by curtain. And that veil is broken. God does not reside in a man-made container anymore. He lives inside of a God-formed chest. We’re his temples, His sanctuaries. But we don’t get to keep God inside, locked up in the farthest corner of our tabernacle hearts.
We create vessels that carry Him deeper into the world, the parts only we were meant to reach, in the ways only we can.
Be so wrapped up in Him as your source that all you do is dripping with the grace of God. Allow him to occupy the spaces inside whatever you create.
All of those things become another way for God to radiate His glory in the streets, through the cracks, into forgotten souls and lost hearts.