Thursday, 13 June 2013

Week 4 Getting from Here to There Moses' Mission - Willing Hearts - a talk by Canon Andrew Evans

Inspired by Exodus 35. 20-24, 29

When God gave to the people of Israel the promise of liberation and a new land, he did not promise that getting there would be easy.  And over the last few weeks we have been looking at just how difficult it actually was.  Yet God never abandoned his people, even though they showed themselves again and again not to be truly faithful.  And although we are coming to the end of this series, and our exploration of Exodus, the Israelites have to go on for another four books in the bible (Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy and Joshua) before they do eventually settle in the Promised Land.  Phew, how many worn out pairs of sandals is that?

After all the problems last time, and the terrible events that followed their turning away from God and back to the old ways, and although the trials and tribulations continued (especially for Moses!) there was finally good news!  God wanted to be present at the very heart of his people so they decided, while they still wandered, to erect a tent, called a tabernacle, for Him.  The people wanted this to be made of the very best of everything they could offer so, guess what, the jewellery had to go again!

This time was different though. The offering was a free-will one, not made out of fear, but out of love.  We are told ‘everyone whose heart was stirred’ and whose ‘spirit was willing’ and who were of a ‘willing heart’. People wanted to do their very best for God and were therefore willing to give not just generously, but sacrificially.  There is a difference; we can be generous, but it often is ‘what we can afford’.  To give sacrificially means we make a choice to do without something because we feel God is more important.

What does it mean to have a willing heart?  Undertaking anything with a sense of resentment or grievance doesn’t lead to happiness, either personally or in a family or workplace.  And having a willing heart doesn’t mean being exploited by a ruthless employer, either.  It is about an attitude to living that recognises that God is at the centre of things, that all we do is to His glory and honour.  When this spirit settles deeply in our souls, our very lives are transformed and, actually, we become much more contented and happy. 

Those Israelites, you know.  They left behind everything that was familiar, harked back to the good old days, weren’t faithful or thankful to a God who kept his promises to them time and time again.  And they dared to turn to false gods with all the troubles that came with that.  This story is over three thousand years old, but do you know, it could have been written today.

May God bless you with a willing heart a willing spirit and great peace today and always.


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