By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people. (Ex. 13:21-22 NIV)
Lately I've been relating an awful lot to the Israelites as they wandered through the desert on their 40 year journey to the Promised Land. It is such a powerful image of a life lived in faith. Open-handed commitment to the Almighty.
It's not always easy. Many of us have had this little conversation with God:
"Where are You taking us, God? You say 'The Promised Land'... but I've gotta admit, sometimes, out here wandering in the desert, we just miss the familiarity of Egypt. I mean... I know there was bondage and no hope for us there... I know you desire more for us... But at least it was familiar. At least we knew where to find water.... where our next meal was coming from..."
And yet, we get up in the morning and we see that cloud, and we follow. And when the desert sun sets, there is the fire in the sky... and we keep following. Our destination is in God's hands. We're just called to put one foot in front of the other and follow.
If we follow in faith, He will provide. Our questions and doubts will be answered. Our needs will be met. But in HIS time, and on HIS terms. Not our own.
My mind goes back to the story when the Israelites had gone 3 full days without water, and once they arrived at an "oasis", of sorts, the water was "bitter". That might have been enough to harden a heart or two, wouldn't you think? But rather than grumbling or turning from God or even taking matters into their own hands, Moses turned to God and asked... "Ummm.... so.... NOW what?!"
"Throw that piece of wood over there into the water. It'll turn sweet." Moses Obeyed. God provided. They drank. They slept. In the morning there was more manna. They ate. They followed the cloud. Maybe not how the Israelites would've drawn it up... but God provided. On HIS terms.
Indeed... His ways are NOT our ways. But His was are perfect.
Katie and I have been praying for months about the details, trying to navigate this wilderness together, en route "The Promised Land". Decisions, decisions, decisions. Where do we call home? What do careers look like in this "new life"? How do we balance our need for a "new start" or a "new life" without abandoning the blessings of provision which have carried us this far? This idea that TJ has carried in his heart for so long-- this hope of a "new mommy"... How does Katie fit into that? What is the "timeline" we're on?
It's just about enough to stress a relationship out, you know? But if we've learned one thing since we first started communicating 9 or 10 months ago, it's to stay "open-handed" with our trust and faith in God. To bring our requests, questions, needs, fears, doubts, and desires to God. And to rest in Him. And in the morning, wake up and follow that cloud. And in the night, there's always that fire. When we bang the staff on the rock, water gushes forth. He provides. We drink.
Praise God for His provision. For His plan. For His promises. For His goodness, which we are so blessed to drink to our hearts' content, as we continue to follow that cloud and that fire.