In short, the tabernacle was a massive tented area that was constructed by the Israelites to be the place where God’s Glory would dwell when they struck camp (remember God moved before the Israelites in a pillar of smoke in the day and a column of fire at night). And there are chapters upon chapters about the construction of the tabernacle in Exodus and Leviticus. Our theme, Tabernacling, turns the tabernacle into a verb; a goofy but memorable way to think about the idea of God dwelling inside us as His temples.
Now we talked about many different things during the night (middles school youth have LOTS of questions) but we focused on three main lessons from the tabernacle: God must be at the center, God wants only our best stuff and all that we give must be freely given. Now I could talk on all these for a long time, but I want to share one image that came out of our devotions.
Now going back many years to learning about the solar system, you probably learned that this massive burning ball of gas called the Sun is the center of the solar system. Why is it the center and why do all the planets orbit around it? Gravity. Being the BIGGEST body in the solar system, the Sun has the greatest amount of gravity and it pulls everything into itself. Some things are in close orbit like Mercury and some small chunks of rock like Pluto take 248 years to go around in 1 orbit.
So now, think about these 5 things: your family, school/work, friends, activities/sports and your faith. Which of these has the biggest pull in your life that seems to dictate the orbits of the rest? One of the things I love about middle school youth is their truthfulness. Almost every single one pointed to something other than their faith. Yet God is the Sun. He is massive and powerful and brings us Light and warmth and makes all life possible. But sometimes, something else becomes the center of our personal solar system. And our orbits become misaligned and things are thrown into disarray. It may seem things are going ok. God may be in a close orbit to that thing. We may shift him to that LONG Plutonian orbit.
But here is the thing: God will always be the most massive draw in our lives. Despite our artificial restructuring, we will constantly feel the pull of God’s gravity to bring us back into realignment. Every moment of every day God is there calling us to our proper place in the world. I believe we all know this. It is why we feel that awkwardness and discomfort when our solar system is out of balance. Our lives are off kilter and it takes an exorbinant amount of energy and resources to try and maintain this artificial system. We run around exhausted and busy yet never at peace.
“Then have them build a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them” Exodus 25:8
“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.” John 15:4