I have given too much time to this thing called religion not to continue, my life so enriched by the numerous God moments enjoyed. When I share life with others, as I did a group of men on Wednesday night, I know that mine has been a privileged life.
Of course, when you live life on the edge, you occasionally slip over. In my case, each time the Lord has bailed me out, at least over time.
In that bailing out process, one learns to separate any ego from the concept of righteousness, question religious dogma (“a principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true” [Wikipedia]), and grow in the awareness that there is a Supreme being who for some reason cares about our lives at an individual level. That is amazing and that “finding out” is what I believe Jesus meant when he suggested that we might “have life and have it more abundantly.”
As I sink deeper into this thing called aging, with a growing awareness that comes from the above described experience, truth becomes the only priority. The one element of my life that has always led me there is my daily read through scriptures, and the follow-up that comes, as I then layer life with those learnings.
This morning, as I continued to read the Biblical version of Israel’s history through the lens of Jesus’ life principles, Solomon’s actions cause me to believe more than ever in a caring and highly relational God, who patiently stewards our lives through the well-meant error of our ways.
From a nation obviously favored by the Almighty, yet fully human in their passion and pride, we see a lineage being shaped first by their desire for a King, then God’s attempt to reframe that in David, and now a tainted but fully engaged King who both desires to follow God, but is well into the spectacular. Fashioning a temple that screams splendor, he attempts to glorify God with architecture and appease God with sacrifices: “and King Solomon and the entire assembly of Israel that had gathered about him were before the ark, sacrificing so many sheep and cattle that they could not be recorded or counted.” (I Kings 8:5 NIV).
I have to wonder how much of this was God shepherding a wayward nation, while carefully recording their efforts in a way that later, men of similar DNA like myself, could learn the lessons that escaped them?
Upon completion of the Temple, the famed Ark of the Covenant was returned to a place of religious reverence. Here is where the “white space” screams: “The priests then brought the ark of the Lord’s covenant to its place in the inner sanctuary of the temple, the Most Holy Place, and put it beneath the wings of the cherubim. The cherubim spread their wings over the place of the ark and overshadowed the ark and its carrying poles. These poles were so long that their ends could be seen from the Holy Place in front of the inner sanctuary, but not from outside the Holy Place; and they are still there today. There was nothing in the ark except the two stone tablets that Moses had placed in it at Horeb…” I Kings 8:6-9 NIV).
This wooden box was designed by Moses, perhaps to symbolize humanity, dipped in Gold, then symbolic of a Divine covering, yet hollow, except for God’s principles. Does this not describe what all seek for but few find in architecture.
Are our churches more the ambition of Solomon, while the encounters with Christ that so many describe, more representative of the true spiritual experience God had planned when that hollow box was first detailed. Just as Moses “tabernacled” with God, is it possible that Christ now “tabernacles” with us; literally dwells within us, His Word written in the hollow places of our hearts rather than on tablets of stone; our lives then covered with divinity and grace, and held in a spectacular reverence by this awesome Creator of the galaxies?
I am in awe!