Monday, February 22, 2010

To go or not to go

Whether the cloud stayed over the tabernacle 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."

If you stop in for weekly visits with me here at Nomad Wife, you know by now my husband, Bob, and I have moved seven times during the last 16 years. While the impetus for each of our moves was a change in Bob's job; the facts are, we had a choice whether to go or not to go.

With that said, neither my spouse nor I are independently wealthy. Our immediate family consists of our two children, Bob and me; and we believe it's our responsibility to put food on our table, shoes on our feet and a roof over our heads. We also made a commitment early in our marriage to set aside money for our children's college educations and our retirement. As a result, not working isn't an option. Who works, what type of job and the location are open for discussions. So with notepad in hand, we list the pros and cons of the situation, consider our alternatives as best as we perceive them and make the best decision with the information we have at the time.

When the Israelites were in the wilderness, God's guidance was a clear and visible reality. What appeared as a cloud by day and fire all night covered the Tabernacle at the center of the camp marking His presence in their midst. Had it been a cloud only, it would not have been visible by night; and had it been a fire only, it would have been barely apparent by day. God gave His people evidence of the constancy of His presence with them and His care of them both by night and day.

When the cloud lifted, they moved on. Where it settled again, they camped. No movement of the cloud, no movement of the people. I'm sure the people were anxious to get going in the journey towards Canaan, where they longed to be and hoped to get quickly. Yet as long as the cloud rested--whether two days, a month or a year--they rested. When we are waiting God's time, no time is lost. Waiting contently in submission to His will is as acceptable as working for Him when we are called to it.

No matter how comfortably encamped they were, the Israelites moved on when the cloud was taken up. Whether it moved by day or night, they didn't delay. Possibly there were sentinels appointed to stand watch day and night within its sight to give notice to the camp of its beginning to stir. The people were in constant readiness to march upon very short warning. As long and as far as the cloud moved, that's how long and far they marched. It's uncomfortable staying when God has departed, but very safe and pleasant going when we see God before us and resting where He assigns us to rest.

The people of Israel, having the cloud for their guide, were free from having to decide when and where to go. There was no need for debate or argument about decisions of war. Spies didn't need to be sent ahead to inform them of the country, clear the way or mark out their camp. The pillar of cloud did all this for them. They were focused, flexible and faithful.

While we don't have God's visible presence in the form of a pillar of cloud by day or a fire all night to guide us, we have the sure promise that He will guide us by His counsel (
Psalm 73:24) and lead us by His Spirit (Romans 8:14). He directs our path in all our ways (Proverbs 3:6). As penned by English poet and hymn writer Frances Havergal, when we by faith commit our way to the Lord, we can look forward with confident expectation whether to go or to stay.

I am trusting Thee to guide me
Thou alone shall lead.
Every day and hour supplying,
all my needs.
(I Am Trusting Thee, Lord Jesus, The Lutheran Hymnal, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1941)

Blessings, dear friend.
Faithfully Following

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