This past weekend, my church campus women’s ministry hosted our campus’ first retreat. It was awesome. There was such sweet fellowship and so much laughter. The speakers blew me away. In fact, I missed a bit of the third speaker’s beginning just because I had to regain my composure from the second speaker. They all nailed it, and when I say nailed it, I mean they disappeared. They stood up there completely present to the naked eye, but their spirits faded into the background while the Holy Spirit showed up and stole the show. I have a hard time staying serious with things because humor is my first language, but when God shows up in the room, even the silly side of me gets pressed to the floor in humility and quiet.
As so so good as that retreat was, I walked away with a burden for other believers. The Spirit removed some masks and issues and what was left was raw, confused spirits wondering, “what now?” Our human nature wants so badly to do something to deserve the love of our God. We serve and we serve. We check off the boxes on our lists of how to please God. We study His Word, but miss His character. We memorize His speech, but forget His nature.
“I desire mercy, not sacrifice,” He says.
I am a fixer. I want to fix your problems and my problems and the dog’s problems…usually with a printed out list I can fill out. I want to shake each person and say, “wake up! wake up and see God’s love! don’t you see it?! He’s doing a new thing! He is faithful to continue in you His good work! See the fruit?? Can’t you trust the fruit??” But I’m past that now. I’m helpless. Which is probably where I should have been before, but…like I said, we want to do something. I can pray, so I’m definitely not helpless. There’s power in prayer…more power than in the hard shake I really want to do ;). But this verse hit me so hard today.
If you use stones to build my altar, use only natural, uncut stones. Do not shape the stones with a tool, for that would make the altar unfit for holy use. -Exodus 20:25
This is God’s instructions on how to make an altar. How to offer something up to Him. There was a point when God gave Abraham instructions. Abraham got scared of famine, and headed down to Egypt…long story short, he let the Pharaoh take his wife, got sent out of Egypt by said Pharaoh with said wife, and was probably in the dog house awhile with said wife. He headed back to Bethel..why? because it was the last place he’d heard a new word from the Lord…YEARS ago. And he makes an altar. It specifies that he makes it just like Exodus and Deuteronomy say, with uncut stones. He didn’t want to mess this one up, ya know…he was at a place in life where he needed God more than he had the in the recent years.
Uncut stones. Why uncut? I love that the New Living Translation says “natural.” It was hard work cutting stones. Think about it…primitive tools + rocks. I’m not built for hard labor anyway, so that sounds especially NOT fun. So, wouldn’t you think that a god would require the work? If you really want to serve me..if you really want to ask something of me, you better work for it. But He didn’t.
He specified NOT to. Search for the stones, use them as they are created by Me to build it, sacrifice your offering, and then sit in my presence. Just. sit there.
Maybe it’s because He knows that if we had to work that hard just to come into His presence, we’d let the priority slip and put it off until we couldn’t anymore…
Fast forward to today. Are we coming before the Lord, laying what we’ve got without all our fixes before Him and offering them up to Him? Or are we too busy chiseling those stones? We work and we work, and we gotta have it perfect before we can give it to Him. yes, Lord, I know you technically want us to just lay it down. But, you’ll be so much more proud of me if you just let me tweak this first, just let me fix that. hmm? God doesn’t want our work…He wants our love.
Praying today that you’ll rest in His love for you.