Then all the congregation of the people of Israel departed from the presence of Moses. And they came, everyone whose heart stirred him, and everyone whose spirit moved him, and brought the LORD’s contribution to be used for the tent of meeting, and for all its service, and for the holy garments. So they came, both men and women…All the men and women, the people of Israel, whose heart moved them to bring anything for the work that the LORD had commanded by Moses to be done brought it as a freewill offering to the LORD. (Exodus 35:20, 29)
When I was younger, I spent many years playing horns in various symphonic, marching and jazz bands. I spent hours learning and practicing my part, teaching the members in my section, and rehearsing with the group to ensure we were all hitting our cues together. It required a lot of hard work and discipline, but when it all came together it was awesome. Everyone played their part, seamlessly blending with the other band members, and a group of goofy high school kids was able to create some truly beautiful performances.
In my last year of high school, our band was invited to a music competition several states away. We knew that we would be competing in multiple categories and we spent weeks preparing for the trip. We would stay after school to practice, sometimes until the janitors ran us out of the band room. Our director even enlisted a professor from the University of Illinois to bring some of his players over to do clinics with us. We did everything we could think of to prepare. When the competition finally arrived, all of our ensembles performed well, but it was our jazz band that outdid them all.
On the day of our performances, we played the songs like we always had so many times before, however this time was different. Everyone was moving and grooving together, perfectly in sync. There were no flubbed notes or missed cues, and even the soloists were hitting notes and adding flourishes beyond their normal ability. It was magical. We won our category and even took home the “Best In Show” for that jazz band performance. When we went back and listened to one judge’s commentary on the jazz portion of the competition, he sat through the entire performance without saying a single word of criticism, adding a simple “Bravo!” at the end. It was one of the highlights of my career as a musician.
There is something special about working “in concert” with others, when people from different walks of life come together for a common purpose or cause. We are so often caught up in the small things in life (the laundry, the lawn, the bills, caring for children, etc.), that it feels good to be involved in something bigger than ourselves. It is impressive when a group of people sets aside their differences to achieve something greater than their individual capacity. It can be a musical or athletic performance, a community program to help the less fortunate, or a missionary effort to build schools, orphanages, or churches on the other side of the world. When it all falls into place, it is a truly exhilarating experience.
Whenever I read this passage in Exodus about the Israelites coming together to build the Tabernacle, I imagine that they felt a similar excitement and pride about this project. They didn’t have to be forced to donate materials or time to the project. No one levied a tax, or guilted them into giving. The Bible says that their hearts were stirred, their spirits were moved, and the people joyously responded. In the next chapter, they brought so many offerings that Moses had to cut them off. It literally says that they had to be “restrained” from giving!
Like the conductor leading a band or orchestra, the Holy Spirit will move and direct God’s people. He will ensure that we are all playing our part and moving in harmony with one another. Throughout history, God has chosen to work through people that are willing to align themselves with his plan and purpose. Even today, he is inviting his people to join him in creating something beautiful, to manifest a little bit of his glorious future kingdom in the present hurting world.
The question that remains is whether or not we will respond when he stirs our hearts and moves our spirits. For me, it is a resounding “Yes!” and I pray it is the same for you!
Prayer: Heavenly Father, I pray that you will stir the hearts and move the spirits of your people. Help us to align ourselves with what you are doing in our homes, our church, our city and nation, and be united in this single purpose. Let us be sensitive the direction of the Holy Spirit and lead us to situations of need. Give us the desire to minister to others, to be your hands of grace and mercy to everyone we meet. This is the desire of our heart, and we pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.