PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• This morning, I was reading the book of Numbers. Numbers 9:18,22-23a CSB says, “At the Lord’s command the Israelites set out, and at the Lord ’s command they camped. As long as the cloud stayed over the tabernacle, they camped. Whether it was two days, a month, or longer, the Israelites camped and did not set out as long as the cloud stayed over the tabernacle. But when it was lifted, they set out. They camped at the Lord’s command, and they set out at the Lord’s command.”
My inner planner experienced nervous twitching as I read that. I’m not one who likes to wait, nor am I one who operates without a detailed agenda. I want to know where we’re going, when we’re going, how long it’s going to take, how long we’re going to be there, and who is driving.
The idea of sitting in a wilderness camp and waiting, the journey based on whether God’s cloud hovered or lifted creates tension in my agenda-loving soul. “Should I start making dinner or not?” “Do I have time to write an article?” “What, we’re leaving now?! I finally got that tent peg secured!”
While my modern-day, can’t-sit-still self balks at the idea of this mode of travel, I realize that it’s still relevant today. God may not be hovering over us as a cloud, but He is still guiding us. He’s still in command and no one moves without His permission.
Note the word “permission.” Just because He allows it doesn’t mean He endorses our every move. Yet, our all-knowing and all-powerful God always works things out for His good purpose (Romans 8:28).
The question that really hit me this morning though boils down to the last verse: “They camped at the Lord’s command, and they set out at the Lord’s command.” And I had to ask myself—do I live my life, including my comings and goings, totally by the Lord’s command?
The answer, as I’m sure you know, is no. I’m a control-freak planner. I’m working on it, but it’s not unlike me to move full steam ahead of God.
I’m like the kid at the zoo. In my eagerness, I skip ahead and give no regard to my parents who are trying to help me navigate all the exhibits and see all the animals. But unlike parents who scream at me to come back, God is more powerful. He can (and will) put obstacles in front of me if I start down a path He doesn’t want me to explore. And He might even allow a tiger to leap over the barrier to force me to be still and wait for Him. But I know He will always guard me and look out for my best interests.
How He gives that level of personalized care to each of His children, I’ll never know! But that’s another topic for another day…
Just as the Israelites moved or stayed still at the Lord’s command, so I need to too. And I know that when I don’t pause and pray before my next project, I will struggle. But when I pray and invite Him in… when I base all my decisions on His say so and wait for His direction, I can trust Him with the outcome—no matter what it is.
While He may not give us a map and sometimes it seems He’s really not in any hurry, He has a plan and He’s always on time. All of my list-making can be trusted to His authority.
Today, as you pray, thank God for unexpected reminders that He has truly mapped out the journey of life for all of humanity. Ask the Holy Spirit to temper you when you’re tempted to run ahead of God. Ask Him to nudge you along when He’s called you to move, but you are lallygagging.