Exodus 25:2, "Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring me an offering of every man that giveth it willingly with his heart ye shall take my offering."
Have you ever had someone give you something, but you knew they didn't really want to? I hate that feeling! Everyone wants something genuine, and something that comes from the heart. But, why does the heart matter? Most importantly, what is the heart God is referring to in Exodus 25:2? What was God asking Moses to convey to the COI (children of Israel)?
Reading the old testament can give you the impression that God is pretty angry. He's always upset with His kids because they have just been so out of pocket. He is trying to get their attention every chance He gets. The children however, aren't always listening or responding to their fathers call. As a parent, I can totally relate. I have 4 kids, and I get upset when I have to repeat myself, over and over and over again! Uuuggg! So, I feel like me and God get each other.
The one thing that I so want from my children, at some point, is to return the love I have for them willingly. I want their love and respect from the heart. This doesn't happen right way. When they are first born, it's totally all about them. They don't have the capacity to choose to love me, they just know they need me. The instinct to survive is what rules all for an infant. When they are hungry, they cry to eat, when they have pooped on themselves and it's uncomfortable, they cry for changing. When they feel alone, they cry out for some kind of touch. Your voice, and your presence makes them feel safe. Then as time goes on, they respect (which can also be fear for some) me because I am an authority in their life. I seem so big, and at times I appear like all I want to do is tell them what they can or can't do. "Stop this, don't touch that". But, all the while they don't know that I am trying to protect them from themselves, or their inability to recognize danger. My husband and I represent their source of food, warmth and security. Their love, from the heart, doesn't come until later.
Until one day, they come to you, with their first hand written love letter. A piece of paper with the drawing of a dinosaur, or a lopsided heart, and the words barely recognizably written, "I luv yooooo Mome". You know that they don't quite completely understand all that love is, but you know that they finally recognize you as something more than just a milk machine, or a authority figure.
The moment they willingly return the love that we offer unto them is a day that is unlike any other. Not because they are perfect kids, or because they won't do anything else wrong.... because they will. But there is a transformation that comes to the relationship. That transformation builds a bond, and it will grow until one of you leave this earth.
I found my life in Exodus 25:1-2 through this love that God has for His children. I see that it is much like the one I have for mine. It is one that would give everything for them; protection from ever feeling alone. In fact, I want to be present with them as much as possible. I want to dwell in their presence, and hear their voices. Yet, there are moments when the screams, cries and winning would overshadow, I would still prefer to be with them. I want them to want me there too. I want them to miss their momma. I want them to have a piece of me with them always, so that they know that they don't ever have to worry about being alone. Even when I am unable to be physically with them, the memories of our relationship and bond, I want to live inside them.
He's asking that they willingly, out of love, contribute to the building of this new or renewed relationship. One that was severed, and misunderstood for a very long time. A relationship that has been one sided for a very long time. But He was willing to give them time. Time to grow, mature, and see the full picture of who He, God is. More than just a deliverer, supplier of food, clothing, shelter and protection. More than just someone who gives them a bunch of dos and don'ts. But eventually they would come to see that He wants a living, loving relationship with them. Not one out of force, but out of love. Given willingly...from the heart. He knew that if they could just spend time with Him, and grow that relationship, they would come to know how deep His love for them is and how that love will manifest itself in the future. The truth is, to know God, is to love him. To know Him, takes time, effort and investment. Growing a loving relationship isn't easy, especially when that love is misguided, misunderstood, and perhaps even absent.
God is asking for the love of his children, knowing full well they may still be in the infant stage of their growth with Him. Perhaps God is just a provider for you right now and you are only looking to be fed. Maybe you fear God, and know that He is BIGGER than you, but not quite sure what exist beyond that. Not to worry, God, like a loving parents, walks with us on the journey, as we grow in grace, helping us to know that through each stage of spiritual maturity, we are loved.