Have you ever noticed that when you truly start to follow the Lord that you are in a constant state of uncertainty? Yes, He will give you moments of reassurance that you are on the right path. But, more often than not, you cannot see the place your foot will fall as you take the next step. While it is terrifying, this is exactly the place He wants us to be. Because when we are uncertain, when we don’t know just what is going to happen, then we have to fully submit our lives to Him, fully depend on Him.
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. They carried out the Lord’s requirement according to His command through Moses. – Numbers 9:22-23
The presence of God was visible in the midst of the Israelite camp. During the day it was a cloud and at night, a pillar of fire. And the entire journey, from Egypt to the Promised Land, was dependent upon His presence. They did not move unless He did and they would rest as long as He did. You see, “God chose to keep this people so dependent upon Himself, and so submissive to His own will, that He would not give them regular times of marching or resting; they were to do both when and where God saw best” (Adam Clarke).
So, we must do the same, move when God moves, and rest when He rests. Camp, or rest, is necessary for a time. But how often do we as individuals set up camp and forget what it means to journey, to follow? We get comfortable where we are and we stay there. Is this what happened to the Church? Did God move and we remained at camp? He promised to be with us always IF we were making disciples (see Matthew 28:19-20). So if we are no longer making disciples (the Church IS dying across the nation…which means more are falling away than those being added), than is His presence still with us? Corporately, I think God has moved on, and many (not all) churches are functioning without His presence. Why? Because we got too comfortable. Packing up camp and marching forward is difficult. The journey before us is unknown, trudging through the wilderness doesn’t sound like much fun. It is easier to remain where we are than to face the journey ahead.
But it is when we keep His charge, as the Israelites did, that we find all we have been waiting for. He is leading the journey. And when we are following Him we have nothing to fear! The journey may be difficult, we will most likely face our enemy along the way, and each step we take is forward into the unknown – but we can rest assured that He is with us because we are following His command.
On the other hand, there are times when we are ready to march forward and God has placed us in a season of resting, or waiting. The Israelites were always ready to march because the presence of God (the cloud or the fire) could move at any moment. In fact, “They probably wanted to move forward badly – they were headed to the promised land!” But, if we believe, if we truly trust in Him, we cannot hurry. There is not time lost when we are waiting on God’s time (Matthew Henry).
There are times that God knows we are weary, so He provides rest. There are other times that He is aware of a challenging season ahead, so He gives us time beside still waters to refresh before we plunge into the difficult wilderness ahead. And, still other times where He knows we aren’t prepared for what is ahead. Those times are the most difficult, I believe. He has trials in the waiting to prepare our hearts for what He has for us on the jouney. Camp isn’t always easy. But camp we must as we wait for Him to move.
The alternative is moving forward without Him. Many times, it seems as if we are doing a good thing, it is a highly spiritual venture. But if we move without Him, the blessing of that venture may never come. After all, it isn’t very spiritual if God isn’t in it…
To move or to stay without the direction of God is defiance. It is direct disobedience. And, because of that, no matter how spiritual the endeavor may look, I am furthering the Dominion of Darkness when I am not keeping the Lord’s charge.
To end I would like to paraphrase a prayer from Matthew Henry:
Father, Your will be done; get rid of me and mine as You please; here I am, desirous to be found waiting on my God continually, to journey and rest at the commandment of the Lord. What You will, and where You will, only let me be Yours…