“Turn left. At a quarter of a mile turn right.” When my husband and I get in the car at our home in the Chicago area to visit relatives in Missouri, we plug in our GPS device and get directions for every turn. And turn we do, left and right and left again…until we get to I-55. Once we are on this highway we don’t hear the voice of the GPS lady for hours. Why? Because we simply need to follow the interstate road for 160 miles. No turns necessary.
Sometimes I wish there were more turns in the road. That stretch of I-55 is not particularly awe-inspiring—just miles and miles of flat Illinois farmland. Miles and miles of corn and soybean fields. I wish for something more exciting.
There have been times in my life when I have felt like I’m on a not-so-awe-inspiring road. Life is moving along, but it seems like nothing much is happening. And I pray, “God, am I going the right direction? I feel like I haven’t heard much from You lately. Could you give a little more direction? Throw in a little excitement?”
Perhaps the Israelites felt like that during their forty years in the desert. Today, as I read a portion of Numbers as part of my read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year plan, I was struck by the description of the people of Israel following God’s leading via a cloud. Scripture tells us that whenever the cloud over the Tabernacle lifted, the people packed up their belongings and followed wherever it went. Numbers 9:22-23 says,
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. So they camped or traveled at the Lord’s command, and they did whatever the Lord told them through Moses. (NLT)
I can imagine times when the cloud remained over the Tabernacle for months and the Israelites itched to move. If they were supposed to travel to the Promised Land, why sit still? Why weren’t they moving in that direction?
Sometimes the hardest times for me to obey are when I don’t hear any signal to move. When I’m not exactly happy where I am or simply yearn for something new, I want a sign to make a change. But God doesn’t seem to give any clues about where I’m supposed to go next.
I think that’s the point. When I’m on I-55 on the way to Missouri, I’m on the right road and I don’t need any directions to turn. I simply need to trust that I’m going the right way—even if it’s boring. When the cloud stayed over the Tabernacle, that was the signal for the Israelites to stay. When God isn’t giving me any sign to change course, I am to remain right here. I am to trust God has planned out the best route for my life and continue on the path. I am to accept this current course, even if it’s not the excitement I crave.
I’ll admit that I’m probably more of a human “doing” than a human “being.” Give me a list of things to accomplish and I’m happy to comply. Tell me ten steps to take to get the results I want, and I’ll dive right in. But sometimes God doesn’t want me “doing,” He simply wants me “being”—being in His presence, being in His Word, being in His love. So the cloud stays over the Tabernacle, the GPS gives no clues to change course.
God whispers, “Life is a journey with miles of exciting, scenic highways AND miles of flat, seemingly uninteresting road. Accept both as necessary in My plan. And while you’re here—stay. Rest awhile in my presence. Be instead of Do.”