The camp was noisy this morning with excitement, fear, and trepidation mingling with the agitation from the animal pens. It was barely dawn as I exited our tent, awakened by the racket. The normally slow, quiet pace of the awakening camp was now a frenzied swirl of activity, men calling instructions to their wives who frantically began hauling belongs outside their tents. My husband left hours ago with the tribe leaders and had not returned, so I had no idea what the uproar was all about. I tried to ask my neighbor, but she just brushed past me, calling over her shoulder, “It’s time!”
It’s time? Time for what? Standing with my water jar on my shoulder and my mouth open in astonishment, physically rooted in place by fear that the wandering would start again, I heard my husband calling me as he raced through the chaos. “Wife! Have you heard? Why are you standing there? We’re to break camp! We’re going to the Promised Land!” My husband saw my face blanche and gently led me back into our tent. We hadn’t been married long, both sets of parents died before we came to Mt. Sinai, but he knew I struggled with change, especially sudden change like this. He knew how tired I was of wandering. Holding my hands and looking directly into my eyes, my husband gently recounted the LORD’S message to the Israelites. I heard the words, “You have stayed long enough at this mountain. . .Go!” They only made me want to dig in my heels.
I was born in the wilderness soon after the Israelites left Egypt. I grew up hearing the stories recounted of God’s miraculous deliverance of His people from slavery. But I spent my childhood wandering as our people followed the pillar of fire by night and the cloud by day, wandering the same landscape over and over because the people rebelled and refused to go into the land God was giving them. My parents talked of the paralyzing fear that gripped the camp when the scouts reported there were giants in this promised land. They spoke in sorrow and dismay that they failed to listen to Joshua’s and Caleb’s testimony of the fruit and goodness in the land, the failure to believe God who promised to be with them and give them this land flowing with milk and honey. All I had ever known was wandering, quail, and manna. A land flowing with milk and honey and fruit had no meaning for me. Now my parents and their entire generation was dead, and we had begun to settle at the base of Mt. Sinai. It was all I wanted now, to settle and be at home.
We had been here a year, and I thought we’d be here much longer. I hoped my wandering was over. It was here that God’s glory thundered from the mountain and shone so brightly from Moses’s face that he had to cover his face with a veil; it was here that God’s finger wrote on tablets of stone His commandments and His laws for us. Surely, we had much more to learn. This was a good place, and God is here. Why would we leave what we knew for what was so unknown?
My husband wiped a tear from my face with his thumb, smiled said, “Wife, God said it is time. We must trust Him. Don’t be afraid. It has been 40 years, just as He said. He is the Promise-Keeping Deliverer, and He will go with us, just as He said. I want us to walk with Him as Joshua and Caleb and Moses do, with faith and in obedience. Our wandering IS over; our home is in Him.” The truth my husband spoke about God washed over me in confident peace, and I suddenly wanted nothing more than to follow God’s command. He said, “Go,” and I will go. The unknown was known to Him. I took my husband’s hand and prepared to walk by faith with him from this wandering desert to God’s Promised Land. Smiling, I shooed him out. I had packing to do!
I, too, struggle with change and with the unknown. I want to stay where I have had mountain top experiences with God. I want to remain where I am comfortable, where I feel safe and secure, where I have rested. I want to remain where I have enjoyed God’s presence and experienced the freedom of His forgiveness. But my journey with God is never stagnant; it is an on-going walk of faith, not a mountain top fortress. I have heard Him say to me, “You have stayed long enough at this mountain. Turn and set out on your journey and go.” And so I will go, because I want to walk with Him as Joshua and Caleb and Moses did, with trust and obedience and faith.
Father, You are the faithful God who takes Your children through the wilderness of this life and will bring us safely into Your Promised Land. You are the One who directs our steps and leads us onward. Help us to not dig in our heels and refuse to move when You say it’s time to move on. Help us to not run ahead or run away from You. Help us to be ready to follow You in total surrendered trust, without fear, and with our eyes fixed only on You.
- What mountain top fortress have you built that God may be calling you away from?
- How do you respond to God’s call to “turn and set out on your journey?”
- How would you describe your walk with God?
- Where is God leading you today?