You know what I get tired of…God taking my perception of something and completely crushing it. This is what makes living in this world so difficult if you are a follower of Jesus. It is not like God’s desires and the world’s desires do not like each other but agree to shake hands. God’s desires and the world’s desires are like two girls in middle school fighting over the same boy. When one girl sees the other, they each walk a different direction (then at the end of the day the guy dumps them both and they look like fools…but that’s besides the point). This friction between the pursuits of the world and the pursuits of God can be difficult for us to navigate. Let’s be real…all of us like the pursuits of the world on some level. There is something attractive about these desires and pursuits. We like the money. We like the spotlight. We like the attention. We like the security and the comfort. There is nothing fun about being a servant or putting others before yourself. I am with you. I get it. If we spend our lives serving other people and if we spend our lives making ourselves less, most of us will feel like we wasted our life. Then on top of that, even when we do help other people God wants us to do this in secret? “But God, if nobody knows what I am doing, how will I get the glory?” Maybe that’s the point…
So, I was reading Exodus 31 a few days ago, and I ran across something really interesting. Most of us have heard of the infamous Bible characters Oholiab and Bezalel. Anybody recall these two individuals? Me neither… But two things about these men were striking to me: 1.) The Israelites had really hideous names, 2.) the Bible says they were “filled with the Spirit of God.” This is important. Take note of this. This is the first time the Bible records an individual being “filled with the Spirit of God.” Because most of us know the dynamics of the relationship between God and the Israelites in the Old Testament, we could reasonably conclude if God fills an individual with his spirit, the task to follow must be uber important. Let’s start guessing.
Oholiab and Bezalel are going to single-handedly kill thousands of threatening foes. NO?! Alright, maybe they are going to be God’s prophetic voices for revival and renewal amongst the Israelite people. NO?! Maybe they are going to fly?! I give up…
Here is what the Bible says…
See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, TO DEVISE ARTISTIC DESIGNS, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft. And behold, I have appointed with him Oholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan. And I have given to all able men ability, that they may make all that I have commanded you. (emphasis added)
They are going to be filled with God’s spirit to (wait for it, wait for it)…devise artistic designs. WHAT?!
See, this is where I just do not get God. Why would He fill somebody with his spirit, the Spirit of infinite power and wisdom, to design stuff? My warped logic assumes the first time God fills somebody with his spirit, this individual would conquer nations or turn the hearts of God’s people back to Him, or something else really awesome. But artistic designs, come on God!
You know why this story is not preached or discussed in churches today…nobody really wants to be filled with God’s spirit to design stuff. It is not a desirable ministry to have. I guarantee if the passage read, “I have filled Oholiab and Bezalel with the spirit of God to conquer all the nations that are in your path,” we would talk a lot of about these two men. They would be on the walls in our children’s ministry. They would be discussed alongside “some of the greats” like David and Moses and Noah. The applications are endless because it would make sense to us that the power of God is used to do something we perceive as powerful and miraculous. Once again God takes our perception of something and crushes it.
Here is the reality…if we wrestle with this passage, we must accept the implications…God does not always call us to the tasks that are “desirable” (I use the term in a very worldly sense, of course). He calls us to the tasks that will advance His kingdom. Once again we are reminded our lives are about glorifying God, not ourselves. We do not like that. I think if we are real (and I am in the boat with you) we would say we want to determine our ministry and ask God to bless it. We want to tell God what we are going to do and then ask Him to fill us with his Spirit. The problem is God does not work like that.
I think we are doing it wrong. We want to be on large platforms preaching to the world. We want to have our name plastered on walls and pasted in newspapers. We want people to look at us and tell us we are awesome. We want people to think the kingdom of God would suffer a setback if we were to leave or pass away. Anybody can design stuff. We want to do something great.
That is exactly the problem. What Oholiab and Bezalel were called to do was great in the eyes of the Lord.
Maybe it is time for us to stop allowing the world to define for us what is great.
If God has called you to do something that something is the single greatest thing you can do for the Kingdom. I think our struggle is not in discerning God’s calling for our lives, but in accepting the calling. The world might look at your calling and conclude it is insignificant or unimportant. But let’s remember…importance in the world and importance in the Kingdom are almost always at complete odds with one another.
So, here is my challenge to you…seek God and his calling for your life. Put away all your selfish desires when doing this. If your calling is to love special needs children, then love them well. If your calling is to spend time with homeless and needy people, do it well. If your calling is to raise your children, raise them in the Lord and raise them well. Maybe your calling is to be a beacon of light in your workplace. If so, shine the light and shine it well. Maybe your calling is to disciple and minister to a small church in a small town. Minister and disciple well. God calls people to do all sorts of stuff so HIS name will be given glory. Some of us might be like Joshua and lead the Israelites into the land God promised them. We need Joshuas. Some of us might be like Aaron and present sacrifices and offerings to the Lord on behalf of the people of God. We need Aarons. Some of us might be like Oholiab and Bezalel and be filled with the spirit of God to “devise artistic designs.” We need these individuals as well.
If you are at a place in life where you are whole-heartedly seeking the Lord, but you feel like your task is unimportant, Oholiab and Bezalel should remind you God does not have to put a platform under somebody’s feet and place them in front of thousands of people for his name to be glorified. Fulfill your calling…and do it well.
I love you all. To God be the glory forever. Amen!