And so it was, when the cloud abode from even unto the morning, and that the cloud was taken up in the morning, then they journeyed: whether it was by day or by night that the cloud was taken up, they journeyed.
Each of us who is active and aggressive in our service for the Lord finds one aspect of the Christian life more difficult than any other. We find it almost impossible just to sit and not to move when God is not moving us. The best antidote for anxiety is to trust in God and wait patiently on Him.
The movement of the nation of Israel through the wilderness graphically illustrates the need for God's people to wait on Him. Numbers 9 gives God's program for Israel's progression. The Jews were not on a steady march for forty years in the wilderness, neither were they at permanent rest. In fact, their journey was a long series of stops and goes. Both were at the command of God.
God never leaves His people alone, without a witness or guide. Living by faith sometimes means walking in the dark, it never means living without a light. God would provide the natural phenomena of a cloud and fire. On the day that it was erected, a cloud covered the Tabernacle so that it was entirely enshrouded during the day. At night fire appeared in the sky and prohibited Israel from losing sight of the abode of God. Numbers 9:21 summarizes, "And so it was, when the cloud bode from even unto the morning, and that the cloud was taken in the morning then they journeyed: whether it was by day or night that the cloud was taken up, they journeyed." Since the length of the stay at any one place in the wilderness could vary from two days, to a month, to a year, Israel's only obligation was to trust God and watch for the movement of the cloud.
Many are the occasions that we find ourselves awaiting direction from the Lord and wondering if it will ever come. But if we let Him be our guide, we will not only "Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him" (Psalm 37:7), but when He does move us we will be certain that our direction is the correct one.
Some years ago a party of fisherman took their small boat into the Gulf of Mexico. They came to their favorite spot, a place they had been many times before. The weather was balmy, the fish were biting, and they completely lost themselves in the hours of the afternoon. By nightfall a dense fog had moved in and they found themselves completely engulfed in the "soup" and could see only a few feet ahead of them. Their hearts raced with excitement. Then one of the fishermen remembered that he had a small compass in his pocket. They had already determined which direction they should go, but the compass pointed in the opposite direction. Now they were faced with a dilemma. Would they follow their own instincts, or the sure rule of the compass? All the men agreed to follow the direction of the compass. After what seemed an endlessly long time, they saw the shadowy outline of the shore emerging through the fog. They found themselves only a few yards from the dock where they started earlier in the day. The reliable compass had told them which direction to go, they trusted it, and they returned home safely.
Let us not be guilty today of attempting to move ahead of God when He says to "sit still." Likewise, when through the Word of God we are moved in a particular direction, let us not question that direction, but do the will of God. The clouds of concern may completely encircle us today but God will remove them in His own good time and will provide direction for us if we simply trust Him and wait upon Him.
Lord, I would clasp Thy hand in mine,
Nor ever murmur nor repine,
Content, whatever lot I see,
Since 'tis my God that leadeth me!