"From everyone who gives it willingly with his heart you shall take my offering . . .that I may dwell among them"
Mid-Exodus, the entire chaotic nation is poised at the base of Mount Sinai for the trans-wilderness trek to the homeland. And much of the focus seems to be on just how God will relate to them, how and WHERE. In the beginning of chapter 25 there seems to be this principle. Offering, sacrifice, creates the space for God's dwelling.
A few chapters later, after the golden calf debacle, God tells them, it is time to go (chapter 33). And He offers to send an avenging angelic presence to clear the way before them. Which sounds like rather good news, but the people react in mourning and despair. They realize that a distant God who makes life easy is not as good as a present God whose holiness presents a danger to their wayward hearts. Moses pleads "let my Lord, I pray, go among us, even though we are a stiff-necked people."
In the clatter and clutter of life, I can forget that the most important thing is the Presence of God. Not His power, His gifts, His dramatic acts of salvation and mercy going before us, driving out evil, protecting and sustaining. Not the arrival, not a home. But His immediate, tangible presence along the way. And that inviting that Presence involves sacrifice. Offering.
In the hidden losses and silent griefs of this missionary life, the thousand deaths to self, this is a redemptive view. Those small offerings, the freewill offerings of earrings and scarlet thread, of gold and goats hair and acacia wood, brought morning by morning, have a purpose. Those goodbyes and griefs clear the way for God's presence in our midst.