“A Basket Story”

August 1, 2014

Basket made by the Weber family at Longaberger Homestead
A basket Brooksyne made at the Longaberger Homestead several years ago
“A Basket Story”
Note: Due to travel a podcast was not prepared for this message.

“But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile. His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him” (Exodus 2:3,4).

Longaberger basket

Yesterday we visited the Longaberger Homestead and later passed by the Longaberger company headquarters about twenty miles away. Longaberger is a company known for making baskets and their headquarters is shaped like a gigantic basket. It is an amazing sight to see off the highway as we drove by! (For true scale visualization you have to remember those are full size trees next to the pictured basket.)

Baskets have been huge collector items over the years but based on our visit yesterday it seems the interest in Longaberger baskets is waning at the very least or simply a thing of the past. The place was practically deserted with a huge parking lot and only a few cars. The busy production area we had visited years ago looked closed. We overheard people (mostly older) commenting on how busy the place used to be. The whole store and all the shops were 50% off. This would be a good reminder concerning all popular fads which tend to come and go!

Some baskets are functional but many baskets are used for decorative purposes. In our home their main usage is for flowers, plants, and collecting vegetables from the garden as well as packing a meal for a family in need. Brooksyne really isn’t very interested in the heirloom quality such as Longaberger baskets offer.

Please note: Due to the historical background today’s message is longer than usual!

Woman with basket on head All throughout history baskets have had a practical function. They are first mentioned in the Bible in the Book of Genesis. (Genesis 40:16) When we visited Central America we saw women and children carrying baskets on their heads. When we visited the pre-European Cherokee Village in Tahlequah, Oklahoma we watched Cherokee women making baskets.  Today we want to consider a fairly well-known time in the Bible that a basket was used in a very functional way as a means of preservation and deliverance.

Crying baby Pharoah had decreed that all male Hebrew babies were to be destroyed, the first attempted holocaust. A Hebrew named Jochebed had a son and after his birth she tried to hide him. But at three months of age she could hide him no longer.  Babies have a will of their own and though Jochebed may have sung and rocked the baby to try to pacify his infant whimpers, surely they turned into loud crying as the child grew. All parents experience this with their healthy growing babies.

Moses in basket God could have intervened in this matter by silencing the baby but He didn’t work things out that way. So Jochebed came up with a plan of her own. She got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch (to make it waterproof and thus it would float) and placed him in the basket among the reeds along the Nile River. This must have been very hard for her to do, but perhaps she had seen firsthand Pharoah’s vengeance and her motherly instinct was to protect her baby.

I am intrigued by the actions taken by the baby’s older sister, Miriam, in the next several verses. Even a child had a part in God’s redemptive plan! After the basket was placed in the reeds beside the waters Miriam “stood at a distance to see what would happen to him.” I wonder what she was thinking? How much had her mother explained to her? How long did she watch and wait for something to happen?

In due time Pharaoh’s daughter came down to the river, found the crying baby and “had compassion on him.” Isn’t a motherly instinct wonderful whether or not a woman has actually given birth!

Miriam, who had been watching all along, boldly sprang into action with an ingenious plan. She cleverly volunteered, “Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?” Notice she doesn’t say “my mother” or “his mother” but “one of the Hebrew women.” That took some quick thinking. Perhaps she and her mother rehearsed several scenarios that might unfold should the baby be spotted in this most unexpected hideaway. Upon approval she sought out the baby’s mother, who essentially raised her own son at least for some time!

Of course this baby was Moses, destined to lead God’s people. It has long been my conviction that Moses’ later greatness is in part a result of the godly influence of his mother (and perhaps father from a distance) during that formative time. But Miriam also played a vital role in God’s plan.

In his book “The Invisible Hand” theologian R.C. Sproul points out, “The doctrine of concurrence refers to historical events in which the work of Providence has been acted out through human agencies. That means at the same time human agents are acting, God is acting in and through them.”

Today we need to understand that God is active in even the most seemingly mundane parts of our lives. Miriam made the most of an opportunity and we should do the same.  Do you suppose when Miriam acted on this occasion she had the slightest notion that her tiny role would be recorded for all to read nearly 3,500 years later? I wonder how often she viewed in her mind’s memory Moses, as a babe, hidden in the bulrushes. It must have been gratifying to see her little brother who was rescued from the Egyptian’s hands now rescuing his people from their hands and leading them to the Promised Land.

God is still working in the “mundane” today. Moses’ story should give us incentive to heed the words of Paul: “Be very careful, then, how you live–not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15,16).

Small, seemingly insignificant, acts of faith and obedience have a major part in the mosaic of God’s master plan for our lives. We may desire to do something great for God, but often His plan is the simple day by day acts of obedience in following His leadings, both large and small. We’ll just have to wait and see how it all fits together. May the Lord help us all, like Miriam, to do what is appropriate for the moment!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we’re grateful for the supernatural work You perform in our lives. Help us to follow Your leading in the small day to day promptings we receive from Your Spirit as we go about our activities. The way You cared for Moses is a great reminder that we are never without hope and our circumstances are never too grave when we walk in Your ways and trust You for that which concerns us. Amen.

Longaberger apple basket
World’s Largest Apple Basket at the Longaberger Homestead. The apples looked faded yesterday compared to a visit we made four years ago (See here)

Crawford Barn at Longaberger Homestead
Crawford Barn at the Longaberger Homestead. This huge barn was moved to the site in 1998 and rebuilt in an old-fashioned barn raising with 50,000 people in attendance.

.American flag at Longaberger Homestead (Photo by Ester)
What do you suppose this flag is made of?

Webers in basket at Longaberger Homestead (Photo by Ester)
I never thought we’d be able to stand in a basket as a couple, but we could easily fit into this one with much room to spare. It’s a little like a hot air balloon basket we once rode in at a company picnic many years ago.

A few more photos from our tour of Pittsburgh Wednesday afternoon during our visit with our friends, Howard and Sharon Blichfeldt:

Home in Pittsburgh
This stately entrance is on the north shore where the old steel barons lived.

Home in Pittsburgh
The variety of colorful flowers added even more appeal to this charming house.

Home in Pittsburgh
Howard drove us through Chatham Village, a beautiful residential area on Mount Washington. According to the website, “Since 1932 Chatham Village has provided a remarkably gracious way of life for its residents, combining the charm of an English country village with the convenience of modern urban living.” Note the little door on the front that Howard recalls climbing through it as a child. Do any of our readers know what these doors are for? (See answer below)

Today we will head into Indiana and plan to attend the Indiana State Fair this afternoon.

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“When Trials Come”  Video  Keith & Kristyn Getty

Longaberger Baskets

The little doors were used for milk delivery.

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