“And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people.” -Exodus 13:21-22
God has brought me back to this event again and again over the last year and a half. I’m not super versed in the Old Testament- but I was especially ignorant when God first brought all this to mind.
I’ve told people about it multiple times, always clarifying that I really don’t know that much – I don’t want them to get the wrong idea – like the few times I’ve tried out Spanish palabras at Mexican restaurants only to get a beautifully fluent and expressive response that I embarrassingly cannot counter – I don’t want people to get the wrong impression that I’m OT fluent when the Lord has simply graciously given me this nugget of understanding.
This illustration I’m referring to, this nugget of understanding that has spurred me onward post college graduation, is that of the Israelites wandering in the desert.
There have been many many times where the uncertainty of life has made me want to force roots into the soil I’m currently standing on – because I’d rather have roots in any soil – than none at all. I hate living with unknowns.
But, as God has so graciously revealed to me… If the Israelites would have ever decided, “Ya know what? I’m kind of tired of following God via cloud. Why don’t we settle here? Sure it’s not perfect, but no where is. I’d rather be settled in the desert – which is not ideal – than continue wandering not knowing where exactly we’re headed or for how much longer we must wander…” If they would have given in, given up, tried to plant roots in the desert – they would have missed out on the Promised Land.
Worse than just wanting to plant roots in the desert – they began to think slavery wasn’t so bad…
“The Israelites said to them [Moses & Aaron], ‘If only we had died by the LORD’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.'” -Exodus 16:3
I’m guilty of this too… God has delivered me from sin, my old life- I’m born again – and yet, sometimes my old life- the one where I’m in charge and make all the rules, yet never truly know what I’m doing – looks really appealing. That false sense of control, the comforts that society and media say will make my life better like a “normal” job, the hottest trends, a fleeting romance – yes, that’s what I want, I’m tired of what feels like wandering aimlessly… I say to myself.
But slavery is not better. Slavery was terrible for the Israelites…
“They made their lives bitter with harsh labor in brick and mortar and with all kinds of work in the fields; in all their harsh labor the Egyptians worked them ruthlessly.” -Exodus 1:14
The consequences of slavery to sin is also devastating – although often momentarily satisfying… enough so, that you can trick yourself into thinking you are your own master by enjoying pleasures for a time and forgetting for a second that you still have no control over what tomorrow brings.
But life continues to be full of unknowns.
Just when I think making that next decision will bring peace and solidarity and a steady foothold… before I know it, there is another choice – left, right…or stay straight? – just ahead.
But, amidst the swirling winds of decisions and fear of the unknown, I have felt so incredibly loved by the Lord this week as He has showered me with His promises throughout His Word…
“He guides me along the right paths for His name’s sake.” -Psalm 23:3
“Good and upright is the Lord; therefore He instructs sinners in His ways. He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them His ways.” – Psalm 25:8-9
“ALL the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful toward those who keep the demands of His covenant.” -Psalm 25:10
“Who, then, are those who fear the Lord? He will instruct them in the ways they should choose.” -Psalm 25:12
“If you carefully observe all these commands I am giving you to follow – to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to Him and to hold fast to Him – then the Lord will drive out these nations before you…” – Deuteronomy 11:22-23
Reflecting now upon the last week, the decisions I faced weren’t life shattering. At the time, they seemed like such a heavy burden – they were completely weighing me down. God stepped in via sweet friends and family, through His Word, and even through music. My prayer this week has been, “I don’t know what You’re doing, but I know who You are…
It just hit me while re-reading this… I am so grateful, like really grateful, I mean it completely– for the craziness of this last week/year. Decisions and commitments and life seemed to be taking me under… I didn’t feel like I was even holding on that tightly to God. I really felt like I was failing when it came to simply holding His hand… but I’m grateful because He was holding me and I now know, like really know, from experience, how true and wonderful and genuine is His character, are His promises.
I pray that we would let God take us through the desert – not just so that we can arrive in the Promised Land, but so that we can talk, or simply listen, to Him along the way.