It was 9:30 p.m., and I was parked along a poorly lit side street in downtown Dallas . It was my first day in the city. I had just driven 1,400 miles and found myself cruising aimlessly hoping to find my new home; frustrated, tired and confused.
A couple of thousand years ago, this very same scene was playing out. Not in downtown, but in a desert. Not one person, but more like an entire nation. And it wasn’t a map or a GPS that guided them. Instead, Numbers 9:17-23 tells us:
"Whenever the cloud lifted from above the Tent, the Israelites set out; wherever the cloud settled, the Israelites encamped. At the LORD’S command the Israelites set out, and at his command they encamped. As long as the cloud stayed over the tabernacle, they remained in camp. When the cloud remained over the tabernacle a long time, the Israelites obeyed the LORD’S order and did not set out. Sometimes the cloud was over the tabernacle only a few days; at the LORD’S command they would encamp, and then at his command they would set out. Sometimes the cloud stayed only from evening till morning, and when it lifted in the morning, they set out. Whether by day or by night, whenever the cloud lifted, they set out. Whether the cloud stayed over the tabernacle for two days or a month or a year, the Israelites would remain in camp and not set out; but when it lifted, they would set out. At the LORD’S command they encamped, and at the LORD’S command they set out. They obeyed the LORD’S order, in accordance with his command through Moses."
It sounds so romantic. Think about it. The very presence of God guiding their every step. There was no way to get lost, no way to miss a turn. Just follow the cloud and you’ll be fine. But was it really that simple? I mean after all, the cloud guided you step-by-step, but they had no idea how far they had to go. Whenever the cloud stopped, it could last an hour, a day or three months. So, you could have just unpacked all your belongings, set up your tent, and right as you were about to hang up the curtains, the cloud would move. No warning, no delay, no prep time. Just pack up your stuff, in the middle of the night, with soaking thundershowers, and follow the cloud.
We Christians love to tell each other how God will lead us and that all we have to do is to just pray and the rest is easy.
I wish I could tell you that following God is that easy, but it’s not. Sometimes your journey with God will feel more like following a capricious cloud through an unforgiving desert. At times, God will guide you to places that feel more like deserts than the promised land of your dreams. In other instances, He will have you pass by what look like opportunities of a lifetime.
But just know that every desert has a lesson and that every opportunity that passes you by may have been hiding a potential failure that God passed you by. As you start your day today, give thanks to God for His guidance in your life. If you feel like He has you standing in the middle of a desert, worship Him there and try to learn the lessons He may have for you. If you feel as if He has just passed you by the opportunity of a lifetime, pray for the confidence to know that God always knows what is best for you. And if you are waiting for the cloud to stop somewhere, pray for continued strength to keep on following.
Posted on Fri, April 24, 2015
by Sam Petitfils