“And the Lord spoke to Moses in the wilderness… So it was always: the cloud covered [the tabernacle] by day and the appearance of fire by night. And whenever the cloud lifted from over the tent, after that the people of Israel set out, and in the place where the cloud settled down, there the people of Israel camped. At the command of the Lord the people of Israel set out, and at the command of the Lord they camped. As long as the cloud rested over the tabernacle, they remained in camp. Even when the cloud continued over the tabernacle many days, the people of Israel kept the charge of the Lord and did not set out… Whether it was two days, or a month, or a longer time, that the cloud continued over the tabernacle, abiding there, the people of Israel remained in camp and did not set out, but when it lifted they set out. At the command of the Lord they camped, and at the command of the Lord they set out.” Numbers 9:1,16-19,22-23
All along their forty-year way, this God was faithful at His helm, providing daily manna, camping His fiery and thick presence in the Israelites’ midst. Whether His tabernacle tent was pitched, or packed up and carried to the next place, His glory led and He remained with His own. He conversed with Moses as His friend: He spoke, listened, and answered; He understood and gave instruction… all in the wilderness. What to them was wild and inhospitable, to Him was orderly and home. It is the same for us His children. (Exodus 33:11)
I am in a wilderness of sorts, a place of tangle where I need clarity and direction, and find these words of great comfort this morning. The LORD speaks in my wilderness. He is near, He is nigh. He knows my situation, my heart-hurt concern, my sense of being called to what I do not know, my willingness to follow His lead. He covers me with His shade of care and protection from the onslaught of consternation, emotion, even fear by day, and He gives firelight in the darkness and argument and confusion. He intercedes for me, knowing the perfect will of the Father. He knows the way I go and should go, and will move ahead of me when it is time, always abiding, in charge, unflustered. I can rest with Him, trust Him, and when He says move, keep His charge. He will continue with me, of that I am sure. (Joshua 1:5; Job 23:10; Romans 8:26; Hebrews 7:25)
The wilderness may be full of pain, longing, wondering with no answers or waiting with no end in sight, but God speaks into it. The cloud may block my view of what is ahead, and I may not even know how to pray, but God hovers near, full of goodness, knowledge, and grace. He will lift up and set out when His time is right.
Lord, in my wilderness, to Whom else would I go? You speak to me here and lead me with Your word of life. May I keenly listen, and keep Your charge to stay or move at Your command. (John 6:68-69)