Should members of the LSU Board of Supervisors disclose who receives their scholarships?|
Story Archives: Let us never forget our influences
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|Let us never forget our influences|
While Moses is on the mountain receiving the Ten Commandments God mentions a gifted craftsman named Bezalel. We are told that Bezalel is filled with ability and intelligence. He not only works in gold, silver, stone, wood, embroidery, weaving and engraving; he is also an architect and a wonderful teacher of his craft. It is obvious that God has a specific plan and a specific purpose for Bezalel.
Can you imagine the confidence Moses must feel as he heads down the mountain to share these instructions with the Children of Israel? Obviously, he is not expecting to find a restless bunch of hoodlums throwing the party of a lifetime. We, ourselves, are so intrigued by the golden calf and other mayhem we forget all about Bezalel.
Eventually Moses gets a handle on things and Bezalel receives his instructions. He is to not only build the Ark of the Covenant; he is responsible for building the Tabernacle and its furnishings. One would think with this much responsibility he and his team would rank some type of recognition. I once heard of a lady who donated a garbage can to her church. "Donated by (her name)" was printed on the plastic container. Moses could have at least taken some of the left over bronze and made a plaque for the entrance of the Tabernacle. After all, Bezalel didn't simply build a storage bin. The Ark of the Covenant symbolized God's presence and mercy. It housed The Ten Commandments, along with a sample of the manna and Aaron's rod.
Well, as we read on, Moses dies and Joshua takes over (still no plaque). With the exception of the walls of Jericho falling down, it seems to be "same song, second verse." God, who parted the waters for Moses, parts the waters for Joshua. God, who used a red mark to symbolize redemption for those following Moses, now uses a red sash to mark safety for Rahab's household. Is it just me or does God seem to "reheat" the same story? Has He already run out of original ideas on how to lead His people?
Or… is it possible that this God of unlimited creativity realizes that similarities in experiences can offer comfort and a means to create community? Imagine the fear and uncertainty this generation must be experiencing. Not only is Moses dead, but Bezalel and the great workers like him are history. All this new generation has left are a few heirlooms and a few stories. However, as the biblical account continues we find God working in new and amazingly creative ways. God continues to provide victorious leaders, one being a prophetess named Deborah who led Israel to victory over the Canaanites. And finally, 480 years after Moses delivers the Israelites from Egypt, King Solomon is able to build a magnificent temple for God and the Ark of the Covenant.
Still today encouragement is found in these stories, even though no one seems to know exactly what has happened to the Ark of the Covenant. Some believe it was stolen. Others believe it is hidden. Trust me; Indiana Jones isn't the only one who has searched for it. Archeologists are still searching. But have you ever considered how important this discovery would be if no one knew the story?
Certainly our heirlooms are important, but what about our stories — even the ones that seem identical to someone else's? Truly, I believe God leads in new ways and speaks words that have yet to be considered, but I also believe we are challenged to embrace the stories of one another as an offering of comfort and guidance. Like Bezalel, our efforts may soon be forgotten. Like Moses, we may soon reach the end of our journey. Like Joshua, it may appear we are simply picking up where someone else left off. But let us never take for granted the Deborahs and the Solomons whose successes are influenced by our teachings and our leadership... our stories.
Jo Ann Cooper is a United Methodist pastor of the LA Conference.