In chapters 9 and 10 of Numbers, we witness a strange phenomenon. God is directing His people with absolute perfect precision and clarity. And just to make sure there are no questions, He uses something ordinary in an extraordinary way to confirm His will.
Just as He led the Hebrews out of Egypt with a cloud by day and fire by night, God continues to shepherd His flock in the wilderness, leading and guiding His sheep to safety and sustenance in an unknown land.
To make it easy on them, there were only two lessons to learn in order to be led by God: cloud up = green light; cloud down = red light. Pretty simple stuff. And it’s good that it was simple because no different than today, God’s people had a way of complicating even the most simple instructions.
After giving instructions, there is no test run. God simply raises the cloud from over the tabernacle and the light turns green. Somebody had to be watching the cloud to figure it out and that person then notified the rest. Since there was no internet access in the desert, God used trumpets to alert the people that it was time to hit the road.
The people might follow the big, white, fluffy cloud for an entire day at a time, all the while watching intently for a sign as they trudged ahead. When God spotted a good motel, He would hit the brakes, pull over and the cloud would begin to descend until it finally came to rest on the tabernacle. Not a bad system and it seemed to work for both God and the people. So why isn’t knowing God’s will that simple today?
The question is ‘When did knowing God’s will become so difficult?’ If we’re really His sheep, then why do we have so much trouble hearing the voice of our Shepherd? Perhaps we can learn a few lessons from the Hebrews’ experience in the desert.
In this instance, God set out a specific criteria for knowing His will. His presence, represented in the cloud, was the primary factor that determined His direction. And it’s no different today for us. From my experience, when I am pursuing what I believe to be God’s will, I have a sense of His peace and presence. On the other hand, I’ve been involved in seemingly good activities that were distinctly void of His peace and presence and it soon became evident that while it was a good idea, it was not a God-idea.
Sometimes when you’re in the midst of it, it can be difficult to discern God’s will. Other times, the signs are obvious: lack of peace, inability to rest or sleep well, anxiety, agitation, frustration and ensuing problems. That doesn’t mean that if God is in it, there won’t be problems – there will be, but when God is not in it, the problems may overcome you rather than you overcoming them. Ignored over seasons and even years, the difficulties that accompany being out of alignment with God’s will can result in long-term health problems, deepened relationship issues, financial troubles and additional ramifications.
If that’s where you find yourself now, then it may be time to get into alignment with God’s will. That may mean leaving the golden handcuffs of a a job that brings you nothing but stress and headaches. Or setting boundaries between you and someone you care about to protect your heart from further damage. Or seeking counsel to change your spending habits and dig yourself out from under a pile of debt. Whatever it is, it just takes one step in the right direction: the decision to do God’s will, God’s way.
I was speaking with a pastor this morning about how sometimes God’s people are waiting for the Holy Spirit to come down and take care of everything. But sometimes God’s Spirit is waiting for you to do what only you can do. That doesn’t mean He abandons you with the problem. While you may have gotten yourself there on your own, God wants to partner with you in the solution.
I’ve counselled too many people who said they knew exactly what God wanted them to do and ran through a red light anyway, bringing them to their current situation. That red light may have been yesterday or it may have changed the course of their lives twenty years previous. No matter when it happened, the first step is still simple.
When the prodigal son turned toward home, that was his saving moment. Although he had a speech prepared for his father, he never got to deliver it. Instead, his father had been waiting and watching for him to return. And when he saw his son coming toward him, he ran to meet him and embraced him as only a father could. Put yourself in the picture.
God is willing and waiting to redirect your path. If you’re missing His presence, know that He too is missing yours. As you simply turn around and take that one simple step, He will not only run to meet you, He will begin to realign you with your Divine purpose and destiny.
No matter what you believe, it’s not too late. As you rest in His presence, the cloud of His glory will rest on you. And when it’s time to move forward, He will lead you no other way but with His peace and His presence.
What step do you need to take today? If you need help taking that step, I’d be more than honoured to pray with you.