Our modern day mobility
Our generation may travel a lot, but we’re probably the most immobile generation earth has ever seen. I’ve had the pleasure of helping out families get ready for an overnighter at the grandparents in the midst of their kids dancing in chaotic excitement and sugared frenzies. Assisting parents pack supplies the night before while ensuring they have an adequate supply of clothing and toiletries for the children with careful consideration for games and snacks for the car ride.
For me, packing for a 5 day city getaway normally consists of a long night of laboured planning and procrastination. Planning for my first camping holiday was great! (I bought a REI Kingdom 6 tent with the add-on vestibule. It survived our torrential downpour and floods, and is so HUGE I can jump around in it and not hit my head, although I guess I’m barely 5 feet tall…) Weeks of planning and nights of packing. It took us good hour or two to set up camp and even longer to pack down a mere week’s worth of supplies.
So when I read Numbers the other day… I was astounded.
On the day that the tabernacle was set up, the cloud covered the tabernacle, the tent of the testimony. And at evening it was over the tabernacle like the appearance of fire until morning. 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 Lordthey 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 9:15-23, ESV)
Could you imagine what it must have been like for Moses to mobilize his family of 2 million whiney Israelites as they camped through the desert for 40 years!? No wonder he was more that frustrated at times.
The Mobility of the Israelites
Yet, somehow, it’s incredible to see the obedience of Israel in this time. Israel would have witnessed the cloud of God, a visual presence of their Saviour day in day out. Wherever the cloud of God’s presence rested, they rested, whenever that cloud moved, they set out and followed it. Some days the cloud would rest over the tabernacle for weeks and months, and sometime for only a night. The people of Israel must of been diligent to keep their gaze on the Lord, to wait on Him for His guidance and command.
This meant that they people had to be ready all the time for immediate departure on any day. Every day the Israelites would have to fix their eyes on the Lord and wait on His command. And every time the cloud of God’s presence moved, it would have required the Israelite’s continual obedience to follow Him.
Are you ready? Everyday? In Obedience?
When I read this passage, I was pretty convicted and struck by the Holy Spirit. Am I ready for an immediate departure on any day at the call of the Lord? Am I fixing my eyes everyday on God awaiting his command to go? Am I fixing my eyes on him everyday for Him to show me where to rest and set up camp? Would I be or am I obedient to go and follow or stop and settle whenever and wherever He calls me to on any given day?
And more over, how much baggage do I have that’s slowing me down? The Israelites would have been prepared to pack up and go in a matter of hours. Yet with all my possessions and responsibilities, would I be even ready and prepared to pack up and go in a matter of days or weeks? Do I have a succession plan for someone to take over me if God calls me somewhere tomorrow, or calls me home? Am I ready? Am I prepared? Equipped?
Travelling light and being prepared
I think travelling light would help. To not be burdened with “bigger barns” filled with stuff, to not hold on to anything of this world too tightly. Don’t chain yourself back up to what you have been freed from, forgive and let go anger, bitterness and resentments, repent of sin and give your burdens and sins to Jesus.
To be continually making a building disciples, future leaders that can succeed and replace you at any time. To travel light but be equipped:- in training; in experience; in the love of the Lord; in what you are called to; in the gifts of the Spirit. Make a plan.