As our family prepares to leave for Taiwan less than 3 months from now, I’m reminded of the journey that God has been leading us through. I’ve been reading the book of Numbers recently, and God stirred me when I read Numbers 9:21-23 this morning. My paraphrase of these verses is, “At the command of the Lord the people of Israel remained encamped (whether it was 2 days, a month, or a year), and at the command of the Lord they journeyed (whether by day or by night).”
At this point in the Biblical narrative, God is readying the people to leave Mt. Sinai. As they travel through the wilderness, God leads His people using a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. When the pillar of cloud or fire moves, the people break camp and follow. When the pillar remains in one place, the people set up camp with the tabernacle and God’s presence at its center. They may not understand God’s reasons for going or staying, but they follow wherever He leads them anyway.
As God leads His people and they follow Him, they don’t know it this early in the story yet, but God will take them to places where they will experience hunger and thirst, discouragement, fear, face enemies (from without and from within), and at times they’ll want to give up and go back to being slaves in Egypt. They will make many mistakes and fall under God’s discipline often.
But in the end, God transforms them over the years. God teaches them how to be holy and righteous. He develops their faith in Him as their Provider and Protector. He shows them how to worship the One True Living God and to forsake all other gods. And when the time is right and the people are ready, He leads them into the Promised Land.
Was it worth it? If given a choice, would the people of Israel choose to do it all over again? These are questions I sometimes ask myself as we do our best to follow in obedience after God’s calling. God has been preparing us for many years and continues to prepare us for His purposes and for His glory. At least twice before, I’ve said “NO!” when God has called, somewhat like when the people of Israel didn’t have faith to enter Canaan because they were afraid. They had more fear than faith. Me too.
This time, I said “YES!” when God called. God brought me to a place where I was finally ready to forsake the things (and the illusion of security) that I had been holding onto for so long. After saying “YES!” to God, He has opened my understanding of His word like never before. He has shown me how small my faith has been all these years, while growing and developing my faith in Him more and more each day.
He is now bringing us quickly to our equivalent of the Jordan River and is telling us to step into the rushing waters (Joshua 3). Will our house sell before we leave for Taiwan less than 80 days from now and I no longer have a job to pay the mortgage? Will we raise enough financial support to sustain our family and support the work of the ministry? So many other questions and unknowns also loom in front of us.
I don’t know how God’s going to do these things. All I know is that He’s asked us to step into the water, and we’re placing our faith in Him to part the waters.
Sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you. (Joshua 3:5)
Is it worth it? Decades from now, will we look back on this time and see it was worth it? If given the choice, would we choose to do it again? I am convinced in my heart of hearts… in the center of my being… the answer is “YES!”
May our lives be as standing stones so “that all the peoples of the earth may know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.” (Joshua 4:24)
—– Paul —–