God gave three chapters of His Word to the creation of the entire cosmos. He gave fifty chapters to the construction of the Tabernacle. In this immeasurably important revelation we see both a representation of spiritual reality and an archetype of our personal journey here with the Lord. By the Holy Spirit’s invitation and with soberness of mind we enter into this tent of meeting to be initially and intensely confronted with reality: No one comes to the Father except through the death and life of Jesus Christ.

At Mt. Sinai, God revealed Himself to the Israelites by His own personal name and told them that if they touched the mountain of His glory they would die. And then He said to come up on the mountain. They could not. For love of the temporal and self-preservation, they could not. But Moses did, saying by his actions, “If I die, I will die one step closer to God.”

There on that mountain, I imagine Moses found what we find at the Altar of Burnt Offering.

Ascending into the cloud of darkness, not knowing which step will be our last, paralyzed by fear yet spurred on by an inexplicable passion, we take one labored step after another. And just when the cloud could grow no darker it begins to clear, very little at first, but soon the light is bright, even painful. Then, as our eyes focus we see a small clearing nestled in the foothills of God’s grace. There on a slight rise is a rough-hewn altar and on it rests a lamb, or is it a lion – Oh how our eyes struggle to see through the fear – no, it’s a Son! Standing over him in thunderous silence…our Father. He runs His fingers through His Only Begotten’s hair, then His chin dips just enough to catch our gaze and instantly we are entranced. What love, what sorrow, what pain and what joy! He pierces our soul as a friend looks at a friend. As a single tear streams down His face, He draws His knife across the throat of His Lamb. Oh! We wrench at the horror! The Lamb’s face cries out simultaneously, “My God! My God! Why have You forsaken Me?” And “Father forgive them…” His chest gasps for air as life flows down the altar and pools at our feet. If we could just run away…but grace enfolds us.

We stay. We die. We live again. We worship.


Why is it that when we walk into a kitchen and look at the floor, backsplash, or countertop we instantly recognize if it is hand-laid tile or prefabricated? For the answer, walk into that same kitchen with the one who laid the tile. As we admire the collective beauty, they lament their various minute mistakes. It is only the experienced craftsman that comes to rest and delight in the hope that the sum total of the numerous mistakes ultimately communicates authenticity.

God said Job was perfect. The circumstances of Job’s life, as well as his reaction to them, were anything but flawless, and yet God saw him as a “perfect and upright man(Job 1:8). Noah was a “righteous man(Genesis 6:9), Abraham was credited with “righteousness(Romans 4:3), Zacharias and Elizabeth were “righteous before God…blameless(Luke 1:6), even Lot is remembered as “righteous(1 Peter 2:7). Were the lives of these men and women void of struggles in trust and obedience? Certainly not. And yet, God rested and even delighted in the understanding that the sum total of their numerous struggles ultimately communicated authenticity.

I find that all too often I want God to roll out my life like a prefabricated sheet of linoleum. I don’t mind an aesthetically pleasing pattern, but keep it consistent and predictable. I incessantly balk at the vicissitudes He introduces into the construction of my fellowship with him. But, God is not in the business of prefabricated lives. He lays out the individual narratives of our existence one tile at a time. He is the master artisan who delights in the authenticity of hand-crafted life.

Perhaps if we could discipline our view of individual struggles, fostering a meta-narrative perspective, we too could rest and delight in the authenticity of life in step with God.

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. -­Romans 8:1­