To say I’ve been in search of God’s true presence all of my life would be a gross understatement. It seems that ever since I was a child, whether it was watching my late father painstakingly read and underline the holy scriptures or being ushered into the meeting house where God supposedly dwelled, I have been enamored with what it all meant. More importantly what it was to mean to me. And though I got drastically side-railed from this a time or two in my life, there lingered within this desire to find God’s true tabernacle. It was as if I somehow knew innately that this was the very key to my being; my sustenance; and my survival in this world; albeit a world that I somehow never seemed to actually belong to. And even today that yearning is ever present, as I’m constantly reminded that without it, I won’t make it past the weekend. And so, as the years have passed, I too have painstakingly wrestled with those same scriptures with paper, pen and tears as my father did, seeking to intimately know the one who it is said once and for all “tabernacled with men”.
And yet it seemed from the beginning it was always his offer to man since he put his foot on the ground. Ever since the regularity of God’s desire to walk with Adam in the cool of the day, to an Ark of His covenant-presence going before his called-out people, and on to a permanent but incomplete structure representative of that desire for God also to be intimate with us. And because of His longing, His tabernacle has not been far within our desired reach. And yet equally so, like Adam; like the Israelites; and like you and I; we never seem to be too far from abandoning the quest altogether in search of a quick fix to usher in some Nirvana experience. And like the first rush of cocaine through an aficionados nostrils, it’s never as good as the first time. But even so, man’s historical record shows a persistence to satiate that which cannot ever satisfy us, while the offer of His tabernacle waits patiently by the phone like a patient lover longing to be invited to the Homecoming dance. I see God that way. And I believe the words He wrote down bear apt evidence that He has always desired to be betrothed to us regardless of our wayward heart. Even as he full well knows we will run about forever willing to find contentment in the fool’s gold of perpetual one-night stands.
Learning from the Movies
That seems to be the shape we’re in as I see it. For some of us, even as we age, we continue to buy in hook, line and sinker to the promise of some exotica somewhere over the rainbow. Even while owning our own mirror, we buy the tighter jeans, cake on the make-up and pay the personal trainer, only to cover-up the bags under our eyes and our nakedness until the lights are finally on. Many of us never waking up to the one that we left at the altar in our youth until all that’s left of us to offer Him is left-over promises and a body that bears the scars of what our frequent lovers stole from us. And the story of the Old Testament is ripe with movie reels even YouTube can’t censor if we care to see and learn from it. Yet at the stroke of my pen, even the sincerest of us are satisfied with brief one-minute devotional encounters with the divine, rather than falling headlong for the one who has built a house for us to dwell in with Him forever, and who offers it now for those willing to do the patient work a faithful marriage requires.
But to be sure the struggle is real, and the toil for our daily bread and survival of the fittest is always the order of the day. Yet through this struggle, the offer for God to tabernacle with us is as sure as summer coming after winter and just as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. It is constant. It is ever available. And it lies ever so conveniently always between two trees of which we may always choose from, and each with it’s accompanying result. The continual choice in life between the flesh and the spirit wars within us as sure as a torrential rain, and the woeful tale is that most of us are caught in the downpour long before we ever saw it coming. As sure as death and taxes, our choice of presence in our lives beckons to be the first order of the day, yet so often becomes the money left after the bills and the dues have been paid and has become just too tight to mention.
The Elephant in the Room
However, misery indeed loves company, and even I will in no way disappoint. For I too often teeter-totter between gods long proven are no gods at all, and the one who promises to be the way, the truth and the necessary life. The one who promises water in the desert, the calm in the storm, and the resurrection beyond the life that we cling to with what seems like an eternal vice-grip. Yet as I age, my mirror reminds me that sin really has led to death, including my own. A realization that the world around us has redefined as mere syndrome and something that science will eventually cure with a session, a pill, or a now legislated hall-pass. And as I reconcile my own depravity with the world’s just outside my door, the ray of light is still that tree of life’s offer of rest and peace, along with the abiding presence of His tabernacle that once experienced we will never want to leave. The quest is still there for this lone beggar, and I’m still learning. Learning to finally look askance at the glitter once disguised as gold, and instead lean head-long into the still small voice and arms of the one who has built his tabernacle for this grateful doorkeeper.