Have good Christian friends. Fellowship (like all the other commands) is about improving YOUR life, not just obedience. * I went to visit my friend C this week, and she was telling me that the column of fire that led the Israelites through the wilderness also served as a rear guard, and I was like, “what? That’s not part of the story I remember!” (And how many hundreds of times have I had that story taught to me, or read the story for myself?) So, I made her prove it.
Exodus 14:19 The angel of God, who had been going before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them. 20 So it came between the camp of Egypt and the camp of Israel; and there was the cloud along with the darkness, yet it gave light at night. Thus the one did not come near the other all night.
You know, it makes sense. It takes a minute to get a million or so people to move anywhere. But I’d totally forgotten that the Israelites were camped in the first place. I knew they had a good solid complain at the edge of the sea, but the mental imagery has them stopped for an hour or so, not at least a day – probably days. Let’s turn back a few verses…
Exodus 14: 1 Now the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Tell the sons of Israel to turn back and camp before Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea; you shall camp in front of Baal-zephon, opposite it, by the sea.
So, Israel *sat there* until Egypt came running after them. They had no idea what was happening. They were sitting next to a sea, no exit plan, no clue what came next. They started whining – I mean, last week they have frogs everywhere, but because they can’t see the way out, they freak out.
And that’s a consolation. Because the waiting sucks. It always sucks. And the thing that struck me is that God almost always makes us wait. We wait and we do everything in our power to change our situation… and we can’t, and then we freak out (and hopefully get on our faces and pray), and then He comes through. And makes with the miracle.
I wonder if that’s not like everything else… maybe His pattern is like that for a reason, and the reason isn’t *just* to point out how little faith we have, but to make us pay attention. CS Lewis said that God would come in when we’d come to the end of ourselves, but we wouldn’t know we’d truly come to the end of ourselves until we’d tried with all of ourselves.
And He’s protecting us in the meantime. We are to take refuge under His wings… but how many times do we really avail ourselves of that protection? I don’t know about you, but I mostly want to try to go it alone. Like that’s somehow honorable. -shakes head- It might be honorable, but it’s not wise.
I beat myself up habitually. All this time I’ve been beating myself up for the emotions that show up in the waiting time. The anger, the fear, the frustration. But you know… I’m a mortal. Maybe it’s okay – maybe it’s even better – to be honest about those emotions and still stand on the trust in God. Huh. Sounds like David in the Psalms, really. “this sucks, I don’t see a way out, but I trust You, you’ve got this, but it sucks right now, it totally does – but I know You’ve got me and I trust You.”
I’m not a patient woman. I want my change, I want it now. Especially the things that I know have had clearance from on high – I want those things *now*. From my perspective, on the ground-level, I don’t see why I have to wait. But from eternity, I know that there are reasons. God makes all things come together for good for those who are called… well, working things together for good involves timing things properly.
The waiting time is useful. God is still with me, protecting me. I’m still in His plan, I haven’t messed it all up by doing something stupid (well, assuming I’ve stayed the course – reason #4529 for obedience). It grows my faith to persevere through the waiting time in order to reap the miracle.
It’s okay that it’s hard. Lots of things are hard. And we can persevere through “hard” if we know that on the other end is a good harvest. Which we do – in this world or the next.
Just keep swimming.
*The moment when you realize this for yourself is a big moment in your Christian walk. God tells you to do *nothing* just because. It’s all for your benefit. All of it. Even that stupid rule that you don’t understand and don’t agree with and is totally out of sync with modern reality… it will make your life better. So suck it up, buttercup. Obedience is the smart thing to do.