Moses, what a guy. Talk about job stress—the perks were pretty great but so were the occupational hazards. (And I think I have tough days!) At least there was clear communication with the Boss; no lost email trails or intra-office misinterpretation of body language, all that. God’s instructions were always unmistakably clear, right down to what colors of decorative embroidery thread to use for the big church tent!
One year into their miraculous escape/rescue from centuries of Egyptian slavery, God now has them positioned to pull up the stakes and start their journey in earnest to the Promised Land. He has also promised to be their Guide, a cloud by day and something that looks like a pillar of fire by night. Again, fairly distinctive, even for someone directionally challenged, like me. When He moves left, they move left. When He stops, they stop, and up go all the tents. Kind of like a cosmic GPS. What could be easier?
Then I read this short conversation sandwiched in the account of the Israelites getting ready to leave. It’s between Moses and his brother-in-law, Hobab, (who is not an Israelite). Moses is inviting him to join them on their journey, and that they will share all the blessings that God will give them.
“But Hobab replied, ‘No, I will not go. I must return to my own land and family.’ ‘Please don’t leave us,’ Moses pleaded. ‘You know the places in the wilderness where we should camp. Come, be our guide.’”
Hold on. I thought God was their guide…? Has the great leader of the Old Testament who walked his people through the sea on dry land and spoken to God Almighty in the burning bush and on the mountain suddenly gotten cold feet?
As much as I love the “humanness” of our biblical heroes, I don’t think that is the case. We’re talking about over a million human beings here, so “camping out” isn’t just a matter of taking over, say, an entire State Park. It’s more like taking over Chicago. God was going to guide Moses to a general area; a good leader was needing to prepare for at least some of the particulars.
So I’ll admit that one of my failsafe, fall back phrases is “God’s got a plan”. Okay, true enough. But many times, the very real question of the moment is,… do I?
“We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.”
In other words, God’s guidance does not preclude my personal responsibility. Reasoning brain and redeemed spirit work hand-in-hand. It may seem like push and shove sometimes, but God can still get His end result accomplished.
Because sometimes He may just give us the pattern and let us pick out the color of thread.
Numbers 10:30; Proverbs 16:9 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.