Follow that cloud

You know those great earworms – the songs that get stuck in your head and you can’t stop replaying them?

{Cue Taylor Swift singing Shake it Off if you want one that drives my 14-year-old son nuts.}

I’ve been experiencing a version of that in the past week, but not with a song – with a passage of scripture. I was doing my daily devotions in the Bible app (totally love it), and Numbers 9:15-23 was the focus.

I can’t say that when I turn to the Bible for guidance and inspiration that Numbers would be my go-to book. Maybe Romans, James, the Gospels…but Numbers isn’t one I reference nearly as much.

Holman_The_Tabernacle_in_the_WildernessBut for whatever reason, God spoke to me through this passage. Won’t you read it with me?

On the day the tabernacle, the tent of the covenant law, was set up, the cloud covered it. From evening till morning the cloud above the tabernacle looked like fire. That is how it continued to be; the cloud covered it, and at night it looked like fire. 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.

Okay. Clouds. Tabernacles. Israelites camping. And the repeating – what’s up with that?

If you look beyond this passage just telling you a story about the tabernacle and God’s presence dwelling there in a cloud, I think God is revealing some awesome wisdom for our lives.

In this narrative, the Israelites didn’t make a move without God’s leading – his command. Right now at church, we’re in a sermon series about the “waiting rooms” in our lives; so often we’re tempted when we have to wait to take matters into our own hands and try to use our own wisdom.

But here, God is clearly pointing to the need to follow HIS lead, not our own.

Can you imagine being the Israelites? Sometimes they’d have to stop for a day or two, and they wouldn’t know if the next morning they could break down their camp. Talk about being utterly and totally dependent on God by the hour!

The passage even talks about months or a year where they might have to wait. Talk about a waiting room stuck in a desert! I’m not sure the waiting rooms I’m dealing with would be as physically uncomfortable, but they might be emotionally or spiritually. But the Israelites waited until God clearly said to set out.

And the repeating? I think we need the reminder – over and over again – that we need to seek God and HIS timeline for our lives. If it wasn’t important for us to clearly understand this, maybe there wouldn’t be so much repetition. But I know I’m guilty of being frightfully impatient and of being a master of wanting to control every bit of my life. So I’ll take the repetition as God’s 2×4 reminder to seek Him and His will before I set out on any journey in my life.

Whatever waiting room you’re in today, be comforted in dwelling with God and in looking for His leading.

Following the cloud,

– Jen Clark




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