Need an ox?

“They want me to do what?  Are they kidding?  There’s no way!  How am I supposed to do that along with everything else I have going on!  They just don’t get it.  They just don’t respect what I do.”

Have you ever been there?  Have you ever felt like someone was putting an undo burden on you and if they only knew how much you really did they wouldn’t dare ask you?  I was there recently.  If I let myself, the tirade in my head could have gone on for hours… perhaps days even.  I certainly could justify it.  It somehow felt so right to rant and rave.  And yet it changed nothing.  I would feel myself slip into the “zone” and suddenly realized it was an enormous waste of my time.  It didn’t change anything and ultimately it didn’t really make me feel any better, it just kept me up at night.

By no coincidence, the morning after my tirade I found myself reading in the book of Numbers.  I know, Numbers… the book where we realize God is a stickler for details; details important to Him but are they really important to us too?  Really?

This is what I read:  “Then the leaders of Israel, the heads of families who were the tribal leaders in charge of those who were counted, made offerings.  They brought as their gifts before the Lord six covered carts and twelve oxen – an ox from each leader and a cart from every two.  These they presented before the tabernacle.  The Lord said to Moses, ‘Accept these from them, that they may be used in the work at the Tent of Meeting.  Give them to the Levites as each man’s work requires.’ So Moses took the carts and oxen and gave them to the Levites.  He gave two carts and four oxen to the Gershonites, as their work required, and he gave four carts and eight oxen to the Merarites, as their work required.  They were all under the direction of Ithamar son of Aaron, the priest.  But Moses did not give any to the Kohathites, because they were to carry on their shoulders the holy things, for which they were responsible.” (Numbers 7:2-9)

oxes-cartYou might still be wondering… “So what?  (yawn)  What do a bunch of carts and oxen have to do with anything?”  But it struck me immediately… God knew what was needed for the task at hand and He provided the resources.

Several chapters back the duties of these three clans of Levites are spelled out in detail.  Each clan had a responsibility to help move the pieces of the tabernacle.  The tabernacle moved often during those 40 years of roaming the desert.  Someone had to be responsible for getting it safely from place to place.

Can’t you just hear the initial response of these Levite families after they were given their task?  “And just how the heck are we supposed to carry the tabernacle?  My gosh, what does Moses think we’re made of?  Bad enough I’ve got to move my own tent, family, flocks and herds at the drop of a hat… now I’m supposed to move the tabernacle too?”

To be fair, we don’t know if they actually complained about it.  The Bible doesn’t say.  But it doesn’t take too much imagination to think it might be possible that there may have been at least one or two grumblers amongst them.

In the meantime God just happens to motivate the head of each tribe to bring to Moses one ox as an offering.  And every two tribes decide to go in on a cart together.  I wish I knew more of the back story there.  How did each tribal leader hear from the Lord to bring an ox?  Did they talk to each other about it?   Did one guy have the idea and tell the others?  Did they do it knowing that they would be used by the Levite families?  Did they even know that the Levite families had been given the specific assignment they were given?  The bottom line is, it doesn’t matter… GOD KNEW!  He knew what was needed and He provided the support necessary for the Levites to do the task they had been given.

I was convicted.  Does it really matter what anyone else knows about what we do or how much is on our plate if God knows?  Isn’t He the one that is our provider?  Or have we mistakenly put our trust in mankind to provide what we need or to ration our workload?

What I like about this story too is that the carts and oxen went to two of the three Levite families.  Wouldn’t we say… gosh that isn’t fair.  Why didn’t they divide them up evenly?  But what did God tell Moses… “Give them to the Levites as each man’s work requires.”  The Kohathites, who were given the amazing responsibility of carrying the holy items that were inside the tabernacle on their shoulders, were not given any tools.  They already had the tools… two shoulders each.  It was a privilege to physically carry these items.  They were set apart to do that specific task and using a cart was wrong.  (Deadly wrong as we see later in 2 Samuel 6:2-7.)

This story ended my tirade.  The Lord knows the tasks He has given me to complete and He will provide the tools and the resources I need to complete them.  Others may get more tools than I do, but that doesn’t change the fact that the Lord knows what I need. There are certain tasks that are privileges that He is giving to me as a gift.  I need to recognize those privileges as such and not see them as a burden.  And most of all I need to believe and trust that He sees all and knows my every need even before I do.

This message was solidified for me as I wrote my thoughts in my journal that morning.  At the bottom of each page of my journal is either a Bible verse or a short prayer.  I leave you with the prayer that was written at the bottom of the page that very morning…

“God, Thank you that You know every need I have before I even bring it to You.  Thank You that You know the needs of those I love too.  As I bring these requests before You, I trust that You are able to answer in ways even greater than I can imagine. Amen.”

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