Note: Part 1 (October 2019) is about a man named Bezalel who was commissioned by God to design The Tabernacle and six pieces of furniture including The Ark of the Covenant (later discovered by Indiana Jones 🙂
After watching a movie, it is amazing to observe the credits roll showing how many people it took to create that film. Those folks that worked behind the scenes countless hours to bring this vision into a reality. A few days ago I read that a 20 minute new Apple Product presentation/launch/demonstration takes over 250 hours of prep time! And yet, it is usually only a handful of people that we see on the stage.
Recently I discovered a woman in the Bible named Tabitha that I never knew existed. Were she alive today, I would hedge my bets that she would be feverishly working behind the scenes in some activity that touched the lives of people one by one and furthered the work of The Kingdom of God. Her life models multiple life lessons. Check out this passage in Acts 9: 36 – 41:
There was a believer in Joppa named Tabitha. She was always doing kind things for others and helping the poor. About this time she became ill and died. Her body was washed for burial and laid in an upstairs room. But the believers had heard that Peter was nearby at Lydda so they sent two men to beg him, “Please come as soon as possible!”
So Peter returned with them; and as soon as he arrived, they took him to the upstairs room. The room was filled with widows who were weeping and showing him the coats and other clothes Tabitha had made for them. But Peter asked them all to leave the room; then he knelt and prayed. Turning to the body he said, “Get up, Tabitha.” And she opened her eyes! When she saw Peter, she sat up! He gave her his hand and helped her up. Then he called in the widows and all the believers, and he presented her to them alive.
A few insights we can glean from this story about Tabitha is:
- She faithfully was completing the job and using the gifts God had given her. She didn’t get caught up in the comparison or tallying results trap – she just did it. No questioning or complaining. She wasn’t above meeting the needs of the poor. Tabitha didn’t need a stage or her name in lights. You and I: Are we content where God has put us, or are we fast forward-thinking wondering what the next big thing is? Do we sometimes wrestle with the appearance that God is underusing us? Who are “the poor and widows” we could be reaching out to right now?
- Tabitha was 100% in the middle of God’s will when something “bad” happened to her. Notice the scripture emphasizes the phrase “she was always doing kind things . . . ” It also mentions that in the room where her dead body laid “was filled with widows . . .” On the surface, it appears she was still needed and her special life mission wasn’t complete. Maybe it would make more sense if she became “The Prodigal Daughter” and left her ministry to pursue a selfish and hedonistic lifestyle? Why take Tabitha, why not take some crooked or evil person instead? You and I: This is the age-old question I struggle with all the time: Why do bad things happen to good people? However, can we keep moving forward in life when it doesn’t make sense or we don’t have all the answers? Can we stop playing in our heads the “what’s fair and isn’t fair” game? When our time does finally come – what will be caught doing?
- Tabitha gave the “Three T’s” (Time, Treasure, and Talent). One of the many things that stood out to me was the sentence: The room was filled with widows who were weeping and showing him the coats and other clothes Tabitha had made for them. She had gone above and beyond meeting the needs of this group. They had physical objects Tabitha had given them to that they were proudly showing off while they mourned her death. Her legacy wasn’t only in love, kindness, and memories – but also in clothing that she invested her own time and money in expecting nothing in return. You and I: Several years ago we lost a family member and received great comfort from the family and friends that came to offer condolences. However, several days after the funeral, a friend showed up on our doorstep with restaurant gift cards that he and his kids had picked out for our family. The last thing we wanted to do during that time was to cook a meal and clean dishes. I will never forget that “Tabitha” act of kindness and have tried to imitate it when the opportunity arises. You see, it is way too easy for me to say – “I’ll be praying for you” when someone is going through tough times, and then not do anything about it (usually even forgetting to pray I must confess). Actually, a mentor once showed me how to overcome this. Whenever someone asks for prayer – do it right then and there (or over the phone) so you don’t forget. Doesn’t matter if you’re in a public place – act like you’re talking if it is that uncomfortable 🙂
Conclusion – Even if Tabitha hadn’t been miraculously raised from the dead – she did what author Max Lucado refers to as “Outliving Your Life.” She invested in people, thrived where God had put her, and used whatever resources she had to make the world a better place.
This is the only section in the Bible where Tabitha is mentioned. Even though she died, God wasn’t finished with her. He also wanted to display His mighty power as the Church was starting to build and grow. Plus, Tabitha was able to join a select group of individuals that had been raised from the dead – including the Son of God. I look forward to meeting her in Heaven someday.