A couple of years ago when I was away in Asia on a business trip, I wanted to call my wife from the airport to tell her that it has been a good flight and I was well. For some reason my phone card would not work and so I was forced to use real money in the pay telephone.
Because I was caught off guard, I only had a few pesos to drop in the slot – but at least it was enough for me to tell Susan that all was well with me.
As we made the connection at last, I quickly told her that I only had a minute to talk, but I would call her again from the hotel. Before we could say what we wanted, the phone clicked off and we were disconnected, but at least she knew that I’d landed safely.
As I was walking away from the phone it rang; so thinking that it must be the operator wanting more money, I picked it up. It was the operator. She said to me, “I thought you’d like to know. Just after you hung up, your wife said, “I love you!”
It’s Valentine’s day again in a few days and it’s time to reaffirm in a very special way how much we love our spouses, It’s just so happens that in our church’s reading through the Bible, we come to one of them many places word to us, God teaches us that our love for our spouse should reflect our love for God. And so very clearly he illustrates for all of us how to move into an intimate love relationship.
Not surprisingly God uses the picture of the tabernacle, where worship was offered daily, to teach us the pathway to intimacy. He does so with the six pieces of furniture which were specifically placed in the tabernacle with the intent of moving the priestly worshippers into an intimate relationship with God.
As the priest entered the outer court of the tabernacle, the first piece of furniture that he came across was the altar where sacrifices were daily offered.
That altar clearly tells us how to approach anyone we love.
Whether God or our spouses, our approach should always be with an attitude of self-sacrifice. The kind of attitude which breeds intimacy later says, “I’m with you because I love you, not to get my own needs met.” Of course when you give love like that the result is always reciprocal.
Secondly, came the large laver where the priest would ceremoniously wash himself. To me the laver illustrates the value of our touches. We were created to need touches just as much as we were created to eat. Holding hands while we walk, a stroke of the hair, a back rub or a warm hug are godly ways to bring us to the place of intimacy.
Of course, we can’t rush the process. Just as the act of worship for the priest was a careful non-hurried sacred process, so is intimacy in a marriage. Neither worship nor marital intimacy is a slam bam, thank you mam meeting. Rather, they each require energy, time, thoughtfulness and sacrificial love.
That’s the first two pieces of furniture in the tabernacle which introduce us to the process of intimacy. We’ll keep reading through the book of Exodus and discover the other four next week.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Originally published in the Tri-City News newspaper in Barry Buzza’s “Pastor’s Perspective” column.
For a listing of Pastor Barry’s books visit Over The Wall Ministries.