One day when my parents were out for the evening and the babysitter was doing her homework, my brothers and I decided we would build a huge castle in the living room using sheets and blankets and furniture. I'm the oldest of 4 kids - I must have been around 8, then 6, then 4, and our little sister, 2 years old.
My brothers and I excitedly talked through the basic design of this fabulous castle-to-be, and each had input into what we could use; The living room sofa would form the main part of it because we could easily tuck sheets between the wall and the back of the sofa stretching across to chairs. We quickly added up the number of chairs we could use, end tables, sheets and blankets from our beds, and got to work.
In our minds the castle would cover the whole room and reach nearly to the ceiling if we stacked the chairs upside down on one another and then set our sister on the top as the damsel in distress. Because she was only 2 years old we considered her to be more like a pet and with her toddling around she seemed to be made of rubber, so she wouldn't mind being lofted to such great heights - we were sure of it.
Well, it didn't turn out quite as big and majestic as we had imagined. Oh, we had stacked the chairs high enough on what was our corner turret, and our sister trusted us enough to be placed high atop 4 chairs resting upon one another precariously, but at the last second I thought we might end up breaking our sister, so intervened on her behalf.
But assigning her to the 'dungeon' in the far corner of the blanket and sheet strewn living room didn't have the same level of fun and danger. Just as quickly a knot slipped on a sheet, someone pulled the flap that was our draw bridge too far, and the whole thing collapsed in a heap of blankets and sheets and fallen chairs.
But we had succeeded in making a castle. It wasn't what we thought it would be, but it was in the spirit of it, a core representation of something far greater, and we were satisfied with the night's adventure.
Moses and the tabernacle in the wilderness
In Hebrews 8:5 we are told that when Moses was up on the Mount with the Lord he was given instructions on building the tabernacle - that portable tent structure that housed the Ark of the Covenant. It says he was told, "See that you make it according to the pattern (Greek: pattern, copy, example) shown to you on the Mount."
Can you imagine the job Moses had before him? He was before the Father in glory seeing the perfect heavenly, and he had the unenviable task of translating heavenly perfection into an earthly representation while living in a wilderness with only wood, metals, tapestries and animal skins for materials!
The best he could do in his situation was make a tent while holding in his heart what he had seen in the Spirit.
When we receive a word from the Lord about our lives He shows us the heavenly, the mature, the completed version, like Moses saw in heaven, or what we children held in our mind when building a castle of blankets. But very often we look for that exact thing in our lives to come to pass, and are disappointed or wonder what we did wrong when the fullness doesn't happen as we've seen.
Though our tent castle and Moses' tabernacle were only rough representations of the core truth of what was seen, both were faithful to what was held in the heart and mind's eye. Often when we hear a word from the Lord for our nation, our region, our family or ourselves and we see in the Spirit the finished vision, but reality may be (only) the core truth and picture of the heavenly.
Some real life examples
A lady in our church urged me to visit her dying mother so I could pray with her. This lady was very upset because the Lord had told her years earlier that her mom would be saved and make it to heaven. But all that time she interpreted the Word to mean her mom would leave her church and start going to a strong Bible believing church, and they could be true 'sisters in the Lord' as her mom grew deep in the Word and Spirit. But now mom was on her death bed and clearly that word as she envisioned it happening would not happen.
She didn't understand how she had heard so wrong (she thought), but in fact the core truth of that Word did come to pass. Her mother did pray with us as the presence of the Lord filled the room, and after 5 days she died having spent much of that time talking with her daughter about the Lord. And the Lord was gracious, allowing the daughter to teach her mom about righteousness and the new birth - she was even baptized with the Holy Spirit shortly before she died. The core truth of the prophecy was fulfilled, but not the image the daughter had held in her heart of her mom believing exactly like she did.
A man wanted to talk to me and he was angry at God. He loved telling people about Jesus and wanted to do that full time, and told me that the Lord had told him years earlier he was called as an evangelist. As a result of that Word he quit a good paying job, tried to arrange churches to speak at but failed, his wife left him when he refused to get a job, and now he was living at a downtown ministry for the homeless.
When he heard the Word about being an evangelist he attached his definition of what that meant and vision of his heart - full time ministry, speaking to large crowds and on TV, and all that goes with that. But when I asked him about him winning people to the Lord he told me story after story of people saved, healed, lives changed, and that was what fulfilled him. He was fulfilling the function to what he was called, the core truth, but it was only a shadow of what he thought he would be. After our visit he was fortunately able to
understand this and rebuild his life.
Many people have been confused when they have seen a genuine vision in the Spirit of what the Lord had for them or a personal prophecy, but then life happened. He shows us the completed, mature thing as it looks in the Spirit, and our job is not to attach our cultural or religious ideas of how that translates into modern life.
Moses saw the perfect, but could only build a rough copy, yet it was exactly what the Lord wanted for the time and place. It was the best Moses could do in his situation.
In Matthew 11:14 Jesus said of John the Baptist: "If you will receive it, this was Elijah who was to come (before the Lord)." John wasn't the person of Elijah, but his ministry had the main elements of Elijah's ministry in that he called people to repentance to prepare their hearts for the Lord. Elijah was the true, John was a rougher representative but had all the elements of Elijah's ministry.
Jesus said, "If you will receive it", indicating accepting a rough representation of the True requires a perceptive heart, a discerning person to look past appearances to the heart and core of the truth.
What to look for
Call to remembrance something the Lord told you about you or loved ones. Look at the core truth, and then strip away anything you have added to that truth, anything you have imagined how that would come to pass. Look at what HAS happened, what HAS come to pass, that is the core truth. Like Moses, perhaps you or they have seen the heavenly and hold it in the heart, but you've been through the wilderness and you've done the best you can in your situation. And like Moses, the Lord knows and accepts that.
When Israel believed Elijah would come before the Lord they had one picture in their mind what that meant, and John the Baptist did not fit that image. Some adjusted what they had believed according to the Lord's statement that he was Elijah who was to come. They perceived the key common elements of calling people to repentance and how he decreased as Christ increased.
Whatever the Lord has told you, look for the core truth that has come to pass. Maybe you have a life that looks more like the tent-castle of my childhood, but hold in your heart the image of the true, for you are like Moses who did the best he could with what he had, and it was accepted.
Hope that makes sense...more next week, blessings,