When do I most need to know the presence of God? When do I want to get inside His mind and figure out what He is thinking? Usually, when my world caves in . . . or it is foggy out there and I’m not sure what to do . . . or when I know what to do, but not when to start (or stop). Wouldn’t it be nice to have some traffic lights for times like those? Moses and crew did . . .
“So it was always: the cloud covered it 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. Sometimes the cloud was a few days over the tabernacle, and according to the command of the Lord they remained in camp; then according to the command of the Lord they set out. And sometimes the cloud remained from evening until morning. And when the cloud lifted in the morning, they set out, or if it continued for a day and a night, when the cloud lifted they 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. They kept the charge of the Lord, at the command of the Lord by Moses.” (Numbers 9:16–23)
I’m always humbled by their trust. The cloud stayed put; they stayed put. The cloud moved; they moved. They didn’t seem to question it, whether the duration was only a night or if it was a month or longer. Maybe that is why God doesn’t give us the same guidance today. Would we be as obedient?
But Jesus did know that life would not be easy for His followers. Christians are persecuted. Some suffer in unimaginable ways. We get sick. We suffer loss. But even the ‘normal’ events of life can be upsetting. For this He told His disciples, “Do you now believe? Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:31–33)
This world is filled with trauma, trials, and challenges, but Jesus is still in charge. He faced all I will ever face and worse, yet maintained total strength, amazing grace, and perfect trust in His Father because He knew He would do what is right. I can take heart for Jesus has overcome everything that was done to Him. He is with me and will grant me the same grace.
It is as the psalmist wrote: “And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.” (Psalm 9:10)
In day-to-day life, or in those days when things cave in, or I cave in, or am in a fog, or uncertain, I don’t have a cloud, but I know He is with me. His presence and that gentle voice of reassurance tells me that He is still here and I am safe with Him. How wonderful!