I'll pause for a moment while y'all either die of laughter or fall out of your chair in disbelief, for those who know me well.
I'm building up to it, though. I've been doing an interval training program called C25K (um, dare I tell you that this stands for "From Couch to 5K") that involves walking for a few minutes, then running for a few minutes. There's even a phone app to alert me when it's time to run and when it's time to walk. I hear a little *beep* and my phone flashes a green light when it's time to go--time to run. And then a few minutes later, there's the *beep* and a blue light flashes to tell me I can stop running.
Most of the time I'm waiting anxiously for the blue light, just pushing myself harder until I hear the *beep* and see my signal that it's time to walk again and I can rest a bit. Love me some blue light!
And there are plenty of times when I've just settled into a nice, restful walk when--*beep*--that green light starts flashing, and I know it's time to go again. Darn you, green light!
But every now and then, I'm ready to run but it's not time to yet. It's mostly because there's a big downward slope in the road followed by a steep incline, and I want it to be time to run so that by the time I hit that upward part, it'll be time to walk again (You can see I'm really dedicated to this whole running thing when I find myself planning out the easiest way to get through it)!
But while I'm out there on my morning runs, just waiting on my blue lights and green lights, I keep thinking of how God led His people in the desert in a similar way. Nope, they weren't staring down at a Blackberry waiting for the next alert. Instead, they followed a cloud. The LORD led His people with a cloud.
Whenever the cloud lifted, the Israelites set out; wherever the cloud settled, the Israelites encamped. At the LORD's command the Israelites set out, and at His command they encamped. When the cloud remained over the tabernacle a long time, the Israelites obeyed the LORD's order and did not set out. Whether the cloud stayed over the tabernacle for two days or a month or a year, the Israelites would remain and not set out; but when it lifted, they would set out. At the LORD's command they encamped, and at the LORD's command they set out.
Numbers 9:15-19, 22-23
Numbers 9:15-19, 22-23
I have to imagine that there were times when they had hardly finished setting up their tents when that cloud started to move ahead. Maybe they wished for a longer break in between their travels (I hear ya, Israelites). Maybe they'd been there long enough to have grown comfortable where they were.
But it says there were times the cloud was still for as long as a year. Now, I wasn't there, but I have to imagine that at some point God's people had to get a little antsy, a little "Alrighty, any time now," a little "Let's get this show on the road." But if that cloud wasn't moving, then neither were they.
As for me, I'm ready to run. I am. I am itching to go. This is a metaphor, of course, because I'm never actually all that ready to run in the literal sense. But I feel like there's an area in my life in which I am positioned at the starting line, just waiting for the starting pistol to fire. And I'm sitting here. And waiting. And that thing won't fire! The cloud won't move! No beep, no green light...
It's tough. Because I've had a taste of the "go," and it was sweet. After a long time of waiting, I got the GO. I ran. I breathed it all in. I gave what God gave me back to Him as an offering with all I knew to do. And then the cloud stopped.
And it's still stopped. I don't dare try to start going before the pistol fires, before the cloud moves, before the beep and the green light. As much as I feel like my heart is going to beat out of its chest if I don't get to go soon, I don't dare go where He doesn't lead.
And so I stay poised, watchful, ready for the "GO." Maybe you can relate. Or maybe you can see the cloud forging ahead and you're just not sure you're ready to follow it quite yet. I don't even pretend to have the answer to why you and I are staring at a moving cloud or a still one at this season in our lives, but His plans are perfect. His way is flawless. He is not slow in leading us, nor does he call us to set out unnecessarily. His timing is right.
And whether moving cloud or still cloud, He can be trusted.