You Don’t Need Graduation to Wear a Tassel

After countless hours of meticulous work, they were finished. 600 tassel key chains all custom adorned with a SHINE tag that had been hand-stamped by a member of our team. Every.single.letter. — hand-stamped. That is 600 tags x5 letters each, totaling 3000 gentle taps of the little hammer thingy-mar-bopper, not to mention attaching the tassels to the tags and adding the chains and clips. Like I said, COUNTLESS hours.

I wasn’t a part of this particular process, but boy did I hear about it.  The women who devote themselves to helping with this ministry are truly amazing servants of the Lord and I am so grateful to them and hope they are reading this and feeling my gratitude. (insert big smiley face here.)

Hosting a teen conference for so many girls is no easy feat, and coming up with an affordable early-bird gift to persuade them to buy a ticket turned out to be one of our biggest challenges in the early planning stages. So, why on earth, of all things to choose from, did we go with a tassel?

Well, that’s where the story gets interesting.

Last year, I was reading through books of the Bible I had never completed. I hate to admit that, but perhaps you can relate. You know the ones. You start chapter one and you get bored, lost in the details of Old Testament law or GENEALOGIES and you, ummm, you casually skim through the names and details and pick up in a more interesting spot. No? Just me? Ok, maybe you don’t, but I was guilty. It had been bothering me because technically I had not read the entire Bible. I was convicted about it. So, I found myself in the book of Numbers.

Do you know why it is called “numbers”? Because it is about counting. I hate numbers.   I literally, as I type, should be doing accounting work. I’m not even sure my math problem at the top of this post is correct. Nonetheless, once you sort through all the chapters that record the censuses of all the tribes of God’s people, (which are important) you get to some really good stuff. And in chapter 15, verse 37 we get a visual description for what God told Moses to instruct the people to wear.

Now, while I don’t much care for numbers and accounting, I love fashion and clothing, so this passage caught my minds’ eye.

Check this out:

“The LORD said to Moses, “Speak to the people of Israel, and tell them to make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a cord of blue on the tassel of each corner. And it shall be a tassel for you to look at and remember all the commandments of the LORD, to do them, not to follow after your own heart and your own eyes, which you are inclined to whore after. So you shall remember and do all my commandments, and be holy to your God.” Numbers 15:37-40 ESV

Tassels were God’s idea and thus important. Here are the reasons and how they apply to you:

#1 – Reminders. I forget things. The Israelites did too. Usually, they forgot who they were, more importantly, whose they were and what they were supposed to be doing. The were to “look at” the tassels and “remember.”

The idea was that when our SHINE girls look at their little token, we want them to remember what God said to them.

Let me ask you, dear reader, have your simply forgotten what God has said to you? And if you immediately think, “I don’t know what God has said to me”, then, please, just consider what God said. Period. God speaks to us through His word, the Bible and He has said plenty.

Shameless side-bar plug here: if you have never had the opportunity to study any part of the Bible or maybe it has been a long time or you just don’t know where to start, I want to encourage you to join the SHINE Summer Bible Study. It is for YOU. Without exaggeration, there is absolutely nothing more vital and more life-altering than the study of the Word of God. All of the details about it are here.

If you don’t know what God said, then your tassels won’t mean much. But once you’ve got something, you need a way to hold on to it for dear life.

We need to look at something and remember.  So, set up a reminder. Hang a tassel. Set an alarm. Post a note. Write out the verse that jumped off the page and hang it up. Remind yourself of the importance of what God says over and over again and value it over what anyone else says or thinks.

That’s another post for another day.

#2 –  Don’t follow your own heart.  Shocking words. I’m sorry, did that say DON’T? Look through any clothing store that sells shirts for young girls or teen girls and you will see the exact opposite message, “Follow Your Heart.” We live in a secular culture that almost demands we do nothing shy of exactly what we want. And yet, God told Moses to tell His people to look at those tassels and make a choice. The choice was simple: Follow your own feelings, your own intellect and your own ways OR follow God.

There are so many problems with “following your heart” I don’t have time here. Guess that’s another follow up post too. I’ll just say this for now; it makes WAY MORE REASONABLE SENSE to follow the ways of an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-present God, than it does to self-authorize your life and think you know better. The tassels were to remind the people that God, truly, knows best.

I wonder which message you and I have chosen to believe?

3) Be different. No one else wore tassels. At least, it doesn’t seem like it. The other nations had a different fashion style, and the tassel thing, along with the blue cord, made God’s people different. They were to “be holy” to their God. “Holy” means to be separate or set apart. They weren’t like everyone else in the known world and it seems like God wanted that truth to be a visual thing. He wanted them to have an outward expression of their inward devotion to Him.  His people were not to blend in or even to try to fit in with other nations. No, they were to stand out. Not only that, everyone was invited to participate in wearing this accessory. While every other nation exalted kings and chiefs, and bowed down to idols, every Israelite was told to wear a “cord of blue” representing their unique place in the royal family of God, a mark of their status in God’s house. I love that. Our God sees us all the same. He sees us as royal heirs, called to be different.

Does your life reflect that truth? Or do you hide who you are in Christ, trying to blend in? You can’t. If you know Jesus, you are different.  The Spirit of God is making you different.  You are an heir, a child of the king, a member of the royal priesthood and living separate from the kingdom of darkness. You are in this world, but not of this world.  You have been transferred by grace into the kingdom of the son and you are being transformed into the image of Christ.

So act like it. Believe it. And be different.

SHINE.

That’s hard, but I’m letting my tassel remind me who I am, whose I am and what I’m supposed to be doing.

If you are reading this and feel like one of us must be living on another planet because all of this sounds a bit…weird…please, read the next few sentences.

God wants you to be part of His family.  He loves you just the way you are as you read this.   And it is not weird, but entirely possible you haven’t come to grasp who you are or whose you are or what you’re supposed to be doing.  That’s ok.  I get that.  I’ve been there.  Here’s the good news: you can!

I’m loving this quote from Tim Keller about the good news of Christ,

“The gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.”

There is nothing for you to do, simply believe in Jesus.

Believe in Jesus.   Admit you need him.  Confess.  Turn away for doing life your own way and follow Him.  It simply takes faith.  I know you don’t see Him, but He’s there.

Then,  like the Israelites and the SHINE girls, your tassels can really mean something.

All of that said, I like tassels. In fact, at this moment I like them more than ever.

Here’s the not-so-good-news: I forgot to share this priceless information at the SHINE conference. Oops. I should have taped a tassel to my forehead so it would dangle in front of my eyeballs and I would look at it and remember.  Do me a couple favors, would you? Share this. And by all means, if you don’t have a tassel, get one.  Go crazy.  Get a handful and pass them out. Start looking around and you’ll find one. They are hot accessories right now. Tell your kids and your friends the meaning behind the tassel and encourage one another to remember what God has said, to follow Him and to be different.

And don’t forget, if you want to challenge yourself to get in God’s Word and learn something new or fresh, please join us for the SHINE Summer Bible Study We’ll meet you there.