Should I Stay or Should I Go?
I’m not a fan of waiting. I rediscovered this about myself last week when I had to have fasting bloodwork done, apparently along with everyone else in San Jose. Being super hungry fueled my impatience, so I ended up going to three labs in order to find one that didn’t have an enormous wait. I finally had my blood drawn 80 minutes after I set foot in the first lab. When all was said and done, it probably would have been better to wait in line at the first lab behind 19 other people (yes, I counted), but I couldn’t help it. Sitting and waiting doesn’t feel like I’m moving forward. At least going to the other labs felt like I would get in faster.
On a larger scale, Matt and I are praying through some huge changes for our family. We’re pretty sure that we’re being led in one direction, but it’s going to take God’s mighty hand to open doors and make the way for us. In the meantime, we’re praying and waiting…waiting…waiting.
A couple days ago, as I read from Numbers, I noticed this passage about Israel’s travels to the Promised Land:
18 In this way, they traveled and camped at the Lord’s command wherever he told them to go. Then they remained in their camp as long as the cloud stayed over the Tabernacle. 19 If the cloud remained over the Tabernacle for a long time, the Israelites stayed and performed their duty to the Lord. 20 Sometimes the cloud would stay over the Tabernacle for only a few days, so the people would stay for only a few days, as the Lord commanded. Then at the Lord’s command they would break camp and move on. 21 Sometimes the cloud stayed only overnight and lifted the next morning. But day or night, when the cloud lifted, the people broke camp and moved on. 22 Whether the cloud stayed above the Tabernacle for two days, a month, or a year, the people of Israel stayed in camp and did not move on. But as soon as it lifted, they broke camp and moved on. 23 So they camped or traveled at the Lord’s command, and they did whatever the Lord told them through Moses.
Israel waited where God told them to wait and moved when he told them to move. Sometimes the wait was long. Sometimes they barely had time to pause before it was time to move again. Whatever pace God set was the pace that they traveled. The point being that they were God’s people and part of what it meant to follow his commands in the wilderness was to wait or go when asked.
I imagine that it wasn’t easy to wait, especially knowing that the good land flowing with milk and honey lay on the other side of their journey. Israel had moments of successfully following the Lord, but several more recorded in the Bible where they didn’t wait well. There were moments where they longed to go back to Egypt because it was better than “dying in the wilderness”. There were moments they tried to take matters into their own hands. But as we see when the story continues to unfold, getting ahead of the Lord or trying to move outside of his commands leads to disaster.
I, too, have varying success with moving at the pace God sets. Sometimes I have brief, glimmering moments where I’m completely satisfied with my current pace, even when I know I haven’t arrived where I believe God wants to take me yet. More often, I try to figure out how to get things rolling, just in case God is waiting on me to help him out.
I’m not gonna lie, I’m still praying that doors open and things move forward quickly in my life right now. After reading this passage, I realize that I need to add to that prayer a desire to be patient in the place where I am right now. Even if good things are on the way, I can’t forget that the best thing is to be exactly where God has me at any given moment. I still don’t like to wait, but when it comes right down to it, I don’t want to move ahead of the Lord.
If you’re in a season of waiting, may you wait well: with hope, patience, and faith. If you’re in a season of going, may you go well: with confidence and faith. Above all, may you have the heart to obey in both the going and waiting, knowing that there is nothing greater than being lockstep with the Lord.