“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. (Matthew 7:24-25)
So it was when I arose this morning to the sound of rushing winds, falling limbs and battered leaves. My mind shifted into gear and my heart cried, "Oh no! Our beautiful sukkah! It must be destroyed!"
We spent yesterday joyfully cutting hundreds of grape vines from our back yard and throwing them across the lattice roof of our back deck. Despite his painful back, John stood on a ladder as I handed him the vines and we covered the lattice in green, leafy decoration, just as we are told to do to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles, the Season of our Rejoicing. Leviticus 23:39-42: “‘So beginning with the fifteenth day of the seventh month, after you have gathered the crops of the land, celebrate the festival to the Lord for seven days; the first day is a day of sabbath rest, and the eighth day also is a day of sabbath rest. On the first day you are to take branches from luxuriant trees—from palms, willows and other leafy trees—and rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days. Celebrate this as a festival to the Lord for seven days each year. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come; celebrate it in the seventh month. Live in temporary shelters (sukkahs) for seven days.
So we had gladly done this to begin the festival, believing that we would have seven days of rest and meeting with our God in our little sukkah. It was a special labor of love since John is entering the hospital this morning for back surgery. I wanted the sukkah ready when he comes home, as a place for him to rest in the Presence of God and heal. But this morning every vine is blown away, the pretty table cloth in the dirt, the comfy chairs scattered on their sides on the floor. I stared at the scene and that first scripture lightning-bolted through my mind. "It's okay. It's all okay. You are standing on the Rock. " My second thought was that many in North and South Carolina must be standing in their literal homes, needing this Scripture for reassurance. This is a season where God is giving us real-life-lessons to test us, to know the condition of our hearts and what our "houses" are really made of!
I have not written for a long time and as I look back over the past month I see that there was no time. John developed severe pain in his groin just as we were keeping an appointment with his back surgeon. That visit revealed a hernia that required emergency surgical repair! Now, today, he will undergo the back surgery he so desperately needs to get out of back pain that has plagued him and intensifed for many years.
I have been pondering the fact that this will be his THIRD Feast of Tabernacles week spent in hospital! When I asked the Holy Spirit to give me revelation about this, I felt He showed me again that these feast days are "open portals" of God's light and love. They are times of deep blessing as we abide in rhythm with Him and His own calendar. In the feast days Abba wraps us in His cocoon of love, healing and protection, as He did for the children of Israel. I am taking comfort in this.
In a worship service this past Shabbat, Pastor Marty Gale gave me a great reminder about the ultimate fulfillment of the Feast of Tabernacles and how David's Tabernacle was a powerful foreshadow. In this tent (or sukkah) that David erected, there was no veil or curtain as there had been in the Temple - no division between God's Presence and His people. The place of His Presence, the "Holy of Holies" was not limited to the High Priest. In David's Tabernacle the ark was in the center of the tent and WORSHIPERS surrounded it, basking in the center of the awesome, powerful Presence of the Holy One of Israel, dancing with unbridled joy and falling on their faces in surrendered worship. It was all a foreshadow of the Millennial Reign to come when we too will enter into that place of complete peace and trust, safety and protection - that precious intimacy with Yeshua, our Bridegroom-King.
The leafy boughs and branches of our physical sukkah have blown away this morning; but the Power of His Presence is still within us. We are standing on the Rock!