Bible studies for writers

Bible studies for writers | Exodus 35

I couldn’t help but think of my little hometown of Cherokee, Oklahoma, while reading this chapter. It describes quite a team effort. God is asking whoever is able and willing to be part of the grandest building project in the universe. Legends will be told about these objects. Wars will be fought over them. People will be killed for mishandling them. They will become the decor, facade and frame for the home of God – until they’re not anymore – but not a single person knows this yet. They’re just excited to have work to do, and God calls every single one of them to participate in some way. Some people are asked to donate materials. Maybe these are elderly people who have accumulated much but aren’t so able to do hard labor anymore. Maybe they’re rich folks who have done well for themselves. Either way, they contribute through donations. Others are asked to donate their gifts and talents in constructing and designing the items necessary to build and decorate the Tabernacle, as well as making clothing for the priests. I know some people were perfectly content to just continue day-to-day life doing what they were doing before “the big project” was announced on the city square, but can you imagine the excitement of others? It’s not exactly the same, I know, but I kind of imagine the unemployed laborers during The Great Depression when some of the WPA (Works Project Administration) projects were being announced. Finally, they were getting guaranteed work in meaningful projects across the US that would go down in history. What joyous days those projects brought to many families and communities. Well played, FDR, well played. But most importantly, well played, God, well played. I suspect Roosevelt, whether he realized it or not, concocted his plan based on this very chapter. God’s good about planting seeds on the sly like that through Scripture. Sometimes we read them as kids and don’t really get the story, but we do get the meaning, and that’s what sticks with us – that’s what I mean by planting seeds on the sly. And God certainly plants a lot of seeds in this chapter. Plus, He ensures the continuation of their growth in the last paragraph. I couldn’t love it more. We were told in a past chapter that Bezalel, grandson of Hur (who we decided is an ancestor of Aaron), would lead this project, and Oholiab (who we don’t really know yet) will be his assistant. Bezalel and Oholiab have both been blessed with special gifts of about every skill there is – even embroidering. Now, that’s not really fair! Actually, it’s brilliant. And it’s natural to have leaders like this. I am mesmerized sometimes at the all-around knowledge my leaders communicate about different departments and the inner-workings of our departments. I don’t know the first thing about what IT is doing, and I don’t care. But my leaders know. Yay for leaders! Some people love their roles in upper-management, where they know a little bit of everything about every department. That’s not to say they could sit down in someone’s desk and do his or her job, but they have a good grasp about what that person’s role is and how it should be executed. I work with a guy who speaks seven languages – SEVEN! And he doesn’t just speak some of them a little bit; he speaks all of them fluently, and he can read and write in each of them, too. Am I extremely jealous? Heck, yeah! It’s just his knack, though. He picks languages up easily, and he makes a point to use them every opportunity he gets. I, on the other hand, read a badly-translated instruction manual this morning and automatically (in my brain) came up with a brilliant proposal to contact the Aiko company and offer to clean up all their English instruction manuals for a nominal fee. (Of course, I didn’t do this, so freelancers, go for it!) That’s my knack. I see words, and my brain starts thinking about the best ways to use them (or not use them, in some cases). My point is, we all have our knacks, and we all have a responsibility to use them for good things and to pass our skills down to others. God didn’t just give Bezalel and Oholiab a whole bunch of skills to use one time. He gave them both the ability to teach their skills to others (v. 34). Along with using our gifts and talents for good, we are to pass them down to others who are gifted with the same or similar skills. We all have parts to play and seeds to plant, and we can see where some of our seeds originated in this very chapter.

Writing prompt: how does your garden grow?

I mentioned at the beginning of this post that this chapter reminded me of my hometown. I can’t count the number of times the community pulled together to accomplish something, whether it was a Fourth of July celebration or a funeral. The one incident that came to my mind in particular was when our school gymnasium burned down in the early 1980s. I stood outside with my fourth-grade classmates and watched the smoke and flames from a block away, but my sister was inside the school when the fire broke out. We had no idea that day was the beginning of a town-wide project that would go down in the history books, but it certainly was. Our new gymnasium, which was completed two years later, was the biggest, nicest gym in much of the state of Oklahoma. It required a raise in property taxes, contracts with local businesses, new workers in town, and a construction foreman who brought his two kids and stayed for good with us in our little community. That last one is another story for another day, but this chapter sure made me think about the chain of events that can occur during a team project. What’s the best (or worst project) in which you’ve ever participated? Or what’s a project that has had great impact on you? Write about its beginnings and what the seeds planted eventually grew into.

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