Have you ever wished you knew exactly what God wanted you to do in life, or at least today? It would be awesome if God appeared before us in some way so we could confidently follow him wherever he went – knowing he was guiding and protecting us along the way.

Throughout all their journeys, whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the people of Israel would set out. But if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not set out till the day that it was taken up. For the cloud of the Lord was on the tabernacle by day, and fire was in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel throughout all their journeys.— Ex 40:36-38

After Moses erected the tabernacle of the tent of meeting and did the things the Lord had commanded (Ex 40:16, 19, 21, 23, 25, 27, 29, 32-33), we see in Ex. 40:34 that “the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.” All the Israelites realized the glory of the Lord’s presence. When the cloud was there, the people remained where they were. When the cloud lifted, the Israelites would break camp and set out to continue in their journey. Everyone could see the cloud – day and night.

Can you imagine that scene? Think about it. First, Moses and all of the Israelites–journeying towards the Promised Land. That in itself must have been unbelievable. All of those people traveling the land together with their animals and belongings towards a promising, yet unknown future. They didn’t know how long it would take. There were young and old, men and women. People with different likes, dislikes and personalities. Certainly there were a range of emotions–some people excited, looking forward to what God had promised and others more reserved, even fearful of the future. What must they face? Did any of them doubt God? Were they tired and exhausted? Did they argue about settling down or leaving the group? How did those who were old or sick keep up with those much younger and healthier?

Even with all the chaos or at least difficulties that must have been going on with such a large group of people traveling together–the Bible describes Moses’ obedience to God and the leadership he gives to the Israelites. Moses clearly states the commands of God and what the Israelites must do. (Ex 35:1, 4) Because Moses did the things God commanded him to do (which the Bible tells us over and over again–and some of those are in Ex. 40 listed above), the glory of God dwelt in the tabernacle. The people KNEW he was there! The cloud was visible to all. If it stayed over the tabernacle, they didn’t move. If the cloud lifted, then the people pulled up stakes and followed the cloud. His presence had to strengthen the people, don’t you think? God was with them! He guided and protected them. The cloud, with the fire within it at night, not only assured the Israelites of his presence but also provided heat and light at night. They didn’t have to second-guess what they should do, where they should go or even when they should go!

Don’t you wish our journey was as clear and straight-forward today? That was my first thought. To not have to second-guess actions I was taking or not taking. To be led by God–protected and guided in my journey. To clearly see the cloud–if it moves–I move. If it stays–I stay. No questions. No uncertainties. Then I thought about it some more. What if the cloud lifted and moved when I wasn’t ready to move? What if I was exhausted or not feeling well? What if I had learned to like where we were encamped? What if I was scared to enter the land where the cloud was headed?

Sound familiar? We may not have a visible cloud hovering over a nearby holy place or leading us in our journey. However, if we know and have accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior in our lives – we have the Holy Spirit in our hearts! God is within us–not in a nearby tabernacle! His presence is with us at all times. We also have God’s Word at our finger tips. His Word guides us in life–helping us to know what we should do and not do in life. God wants to hear from us. He wants to lead us. Yes, there are times that our steps are not clear to us. Yet, there are many times that they are …we just may not want to do or go where God is leading us! Just as Moses and the Israelites did as God commanded during this time, we need to do so now. Just as God was guiding and protecting the Israelites, God is guiding and protecting us. He goes before us–lighting our way. We too are to step out in faith. We know the ending. We know who is with us and who wants to lead us. We can live life fortified by his presence.

My Prayer:

Lord, you didn’t give the whole plan to the Israelites as you led them in their journey. You expected them to step out in faith and to follow you and obey you each day. You expect the same of us today. Help me to not focus on the uncertainties, but rather you. This issue seems to be a broken record for me. Each day–show me what it means to focus on you rather than my uncertainties. Show me what it means to live day by day in my journey, rather than trying to know what the big picture is. Keep my mind focused on you and what I am to accomplish TODAY–rather than running ahead of myself–which only paralyzes my actions due to fear.

You are with us. You tell us that fact. Please remind us of this truth–so we can live more assuredly, confidently, and joyfully. You know I lean on my feelings in life. Please help me to lean on what I know is true – your Word, instead. Forgive me and others who want to direct our own lives, Lord. You know what’s best for us. I pray for those of us who want to be led by you. Help us to know you and your voice.

Often I don’t follow or do as I think you may be leading me to do–because I’m not sure if it’s you or not. I want to know you! Show me. Teach me. Open my heart and mind as I read Your Word. Then, please give me courage and faith to do as Moses did– to do as you command. Thank you Lord – for your patience, grace, guidance and protection. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.