Offering Our Best
By: Anne Ferrell Tata
“Then the Lord said to Moses, “Take fragrant spices — gum resin, onycha and galbanum — and pure frankincense, all in equal amounts, and make a fragrant blend of incense, the work of a perfumer. It is to be salted and pure and sacred. Grind some of it to powder and place it in front of the ark of the covenant law in the tent of meeting, where I will meet with you. It shall be most holy to you. Do not make any incense with this formula for yourselves; consider it holy to the Lord.” Exodus 30:34-37 (NIV)
Notice God’s instruction, “It is to be salted and pure and sacred.” Have you noticed God is a God of Precision? He loves details. He is a pure and sacred God. He is Holy.
As followers of Christ, we too, are holy … set apart. Regardless of our profession, we ultimately report to the CEO of all CEOs! I work for a ministry. Part of our organization’s mission is to encourage people to have a meaningful relationship with Jesus Christ. It is hard not to be humbled by this calling. It is a tremendous responsibility and one we take seriously.
This Scripture in Colossians is one I try to keep at the forefront of my mind:
“Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” Colossians 3:23 (NLT)
And yet, often I fall short. There are times I complain. Sometimes I am not happy about a change in policy or procedure. Other times, I have had conflict with a co-worker. Yes, it is hard to do everything as unto the Lord. It is difficult to do everything with excellence, and yet I strive.
During one season of struggle, a dear friend and colleague made a simple comment in passing, but her comment had a huge impact on me and my work. “This is our Father’s Business,” she said. A fresh perspective. A renewed outlook I immediately adopted. I work for my Heavenly Father’s Business, and He deserves my best. He deserves excellence.
In the passage above, we read how God provides Moses with laser-focused and precise instruction for the construction of the altar and preparation of the oil and incense.
God has His reasons for everything. The incense was to be burned on the golden altar every morning and evening. It was to be left burning throughout the day and was a symbol of the prayers and intercession of the people going up to God as a sweet fragrance.
The incense was a mixture of expensive and rare spices, and it was to be used only for the Lord and not for any other purpose. The composition of the incense is a reminder that God is entitled to the best resources, the best materials and the best of His people.
How can we not be excellent? How can we not be in the details? In everything we do, every email we send, every meeting we attend, every phone call we make, every conversation, we must do as unto the Lord.
How do we know God wants this? He told us in His word:
“He has told you, o man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8 (ESV)
While we may not burn incense from an altar day and night, we can offer God our best. We can be mindful of His goodness and love and show others. We can be kind, humble, encouraging and extend grace. We can keep my friend’s words at the forefront of our minds. Whatever our job, whatever our calling, we work for our Father’s Business.
In the shadow of his hand hath he hid me, and made me a polished shaft: in his quiver hath he hid me. Isaiah 49:2
“In the shadow.” We must all go there sometimes. The glare of the daylight is too brilliant; our eyes become injured, and unable to discern the delicate shades of colour, or appreciate neutral tints – the shadowed chamber of sickness, the shadowed house of mourning, the shadowed life from which the sunlight has gone.
But fear not! It is the shadow of God’s hand. He is leading thee. There are lessons that can be learned only there.
The photograph of His face can only be fixed in the dark chamber. But do not suppose that He has cast thee aside. Thou art still in His quiver; He has not flung thee away as a worthless thing.
He is only keeping thee close till the moment comes when He can send thee most swiftly and surely on some errand in which He will be glorified. Oh, shadowed, solitary ones, remember how closely the quiver is bound to the warrior, within easy reach of the hand, and guarded jealously.
—Christ in Isaiah, by Meyer
In some spheres the shadow condition is the condition of greatest growth. The beautiful Indian corn never grows more rapidly than in the shadow of a warm summer night. The sun curls the leaves in the sultry noon light, but they quickly unfold, if a cloud slips over the sky. There is a service in the shadow that is not in the shine. The world of stellar beauty is never seen at its best till the shadows of night slip over the sky. There are beauties that bloom in the shade that will not bloom in the sun. There is much greenery in lands of fog and clouds and shadow. The florist has “evening glories” now, as well as “morning glories.” The “evening glory” will not shine in the noon’s splendour, but comes to its best as the shadows of evening deepen.
If all of life were sunshine,
Our faces would be fain
To feel once more upon them
The cooling plash of rain.
–Henry Van Dyke