"By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud
to guide them on their way..."
Exodus 13:21 (NIV)
I have a confession to make. I was complaining today...and trying to work myself up into a pity party. You see.....we have to move, again! My husband and I have moved so many times in our 28 years of marriage you would think we were in the military. But no...we just move a lot.
Sometimes it is of our own choosing...
There was the time shortly after we were married that we moved from a lovely one bedroom condo to a two-bedroom apartment because we were expecting a baby. Later we moved from a two-bedroom apartment to a three-bedroom house because we had another baby. Then the life-changing moment when we moved 3000 miles across the country to start a new life. There was the absolute hand of God move when we were living in a 700 square foot, two-bedroom apartment with three small boys and pregnant with my daughter when God provided us with a lovely three-bedroom home with a yard.
Sometimes it is not of our own choosing...
We've lost two houses to parking lots!
We lost one home to foreclosure.
And now we are losing this home to divorce.
Ok...stop right there!
No, Mark and I are not getting a divorce!
Shame on you!
Anyway...when we moved into this house almost three years ago we were told the owner had bought it as a retirement investment and wouldn't be asking us to vacate any time soon. So we felt fairly comfortable settling in and calling it home. However, life sometimes changes circumstances beyond our control. As their marriage fell apart, our life has become interrupted. And we find ourselves in the position of having to sort through stuff, pack our belongings, and look for a new home...........again.
And so, this morning, I was complaining! I was standing in my kitchen looking around and praying, "You know, God, I really need direction and some clarity of mind. 'Cause when I look around at all this stuff we have to pack, I don't even know where to start. And I really don't want to do this again!" When we moved into this house we went from a five bedroom house to a three bedroom house. We downsized and threw out a LOT of stuff. And yet, here in 2 1/2 short years, in spite of the fact that we have married off two children and sent one to college, we have accumulated MORE STUFF! It can almost move me to a panic attack.
As I stood at my kitchen sink chopping up potatoes for dinner, it struck me....I wonder if this is how the Israelites felt? I mean, they spent 40 years traveling around a desert that really isn't that big. So they must have spent some time just camped out. And if you think about it, they had a lot of stuff too. When they left Egypt, "the Israelites asked the Egyptians for articles of silver and gold and for clothing. The LORD had made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and they gave them what they asked for; so they plundered the Egyptians." (Exodus 12:35,36) They had stuff!
Then, God gave Moses instructions on how to assemble a tabernacle....a traveling tabernacle. This was made with linen curtains and gold rods and had lots of utensils and bronze serving items, candle sticks, altars...Read Exodus 26. This was not just a simple little pup tent!
So when the cloud pillar stopped....they stopped; and they set up camp. They put down tent pegs and raised the canvas flaps; they unpacked their pots and pans, their cots and bedrolls. They sorted through all the clothes and moved hand-me-downs to the next kid....got them all put away in their individual "foot-lockers" arranged at the end of their section of the tent. The Levites went through the huge process of setting up the tabernacle and laying out all the sacrificial utensils and tables with the lamp-stands and incense.... when suddenly.....
The cloud began to shift....
Can you just hear the mothers? "Are you kidding me? I just got out the gold candlestick our Egyptian neighbors gave us! I just got them polished and found the perfect spot for them in the corner of our tent! Now we have to move again?"
And so they begin to pack it all up again. But, in the backs of their minds do you think they ever wondered, "Maybe this will be the last time! Maybe when we stop next, we will finally....be....there! Home...." I know I have.
I realize that the Israelites wandered for 40 years due to their rebellion and sin. And I know that some of the times Mark and I have had to move was due to poor choices we have made. But I also think that each place they traveled was a place to learn; a place to see a new or greater aspect of God; a place to grow. And a place to see the hand of God move on their behalf. Battles were fought; victories were won. Likewise, each place Mark and our family has gone has been the same. Each step along the way has taught us things about ourselves and shown us new and greater characteristics of God and each time we are amazed at who He is and how He moves.
Battles have been fought;
Victories have been won.
So, for now, it's "On the road again.." I don't know about you, but I like plans. I like to know what I'm doing and when I'm doing it. I don't even really like to be spontaneous about going out to dinner, because if we decide where we are going to go too quickly, we usually end up going somewhere we wish we hadn't. So to know that I have to move, but don't know where or when....yeah, don't like that too much! But as I have looked back over the years I realize that more often than not, that has been the case for us. I can really only think of 3 times that we have found a place to move, and then decided to do so. (We've moved 13 times!!!) Usually we have discovered we HAVE to move and then wondered how it was all going to work out. But I have to say...
God is always faithful!
He has always provided us with a place to live, always on time, and always been better than the place we had before. It just requires a little faith. I'm reminded of Abraham when God said to him, "Leave....and go to a place that I will show you." (Genesis 12:1) He didn't tell him where he was going....just go. "I'll let you know when you get there" (me paraphrasing). Sometimes that's the faith we need....blind faith. The kind that says, "Ok, God, I'll go. I'll start moving and You direct my feet".
step by step
day by day
moment by moment
box by box.
As with the Israelites, every move we have made has been a memorable place along the journey. Sometimes they were hard fought battles but with victorious outcomes...water from a rock, manna from heaven, quail in times of lack.
And so, it begins...another move along the way. I will try to keep my complaining to a minimum, Lord. (With the Israelites as my example, complaining didn't really do a lot for them!) Because You and I have been down this road before. You are ever faithful, ever trustworthy and Your love endures forever. You have never left me or disappointed me. I will try not to run ahead of You, because this inevitably slows us down. I will follow Your footsteps when I can't see Your hand; and I will reach for Your hand when I can't find Your footsteps.
To my prayer warrior friends, please pray with us for His leading, His provision and our patience.
"The steps of a [good] man are directed and established by the Lord when He delights in his way [and He busies Himself with his every step]" .
Psalm 37:23 (AMP)