Numbers 8: 18-19

“At the command of the Lord the children of Israel would journey; and at the command of the Lord they would camp; as long as the cloud stayed above the tabernacle they remained encamped. Even when the cloud continued long, many days above the tabernacle, the children of Israel kept the charge of the Lord and did not journey.”

For the past couple of months I have been going through the bible starting in Genesis, and now I find myself in Numbers. It’s amazing how I never expected to take so much from these books, but the Lord has spoken to me in such an incredible way through the lives of the children of Israel. What I love in these two verses is that the Israelites would journey only at the command of the Lord. When the cloud was taken up from above the tabernacle the Israelites would continue their journey. But if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not journey until the day it was taken up. They were completely dependent on God and His guidance in their lives, and so should I be. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” He will guide me, but only if I am willing to deny myself and what I think is right and trust Him with my life. He has a plan for me, one that is far above anything I could ever think or imagine. 

James 4:13-15 says, “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city; spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? it is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. In stead you out to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that”

My flesh certainly would love to make plans for myself in this next year, what I think I ought to be doing, but my life is not my own to live. I live for my God, and it is His will for my life that moves me, just like the Israelites. When the cloud stayed above the tabernacle, the children of Israel remained and waited. Even when the cloud continued for many days above the tabernacle, they would not move. I imagine that must have been hard to be sitting there for so long knowing that there was so much land to travel, so many things to do, and yet they waited. The Lord’s timing is perfect, and many times He makes us wait so we can grow in our trust in Him. Perhaps it’s not the timing I want in my life, but its what I need. The Lord is the good shepherd and He wants what’s best for His sheep, but His sheep often times are stubborn and self-consumed with what they want. Of course by the sheep I mean me, and when I can finally turn my attention away from myself and the world I can focus it on Him, where it ought to be, and let Him guide me. Father, I pray that you continue to teach me what it means to be completely dependent and guided by You. I want my life to be marked by Your guidance, knowing that wherever I am or wherever I go it’s in your will.

Exodus 35:5

“Take from among you an offering to the Lord. Whoever is of a willing heart,”

As I was finishing up Exodus, this verse really stuck out to me. In fact, the whole rest of chapter 35 did. It talks about the offerings given for the tabernacle of the Lord in the camp of the Israelites, and the Lord asks in this verse for those who are willing to give. Throughout the rest of this chapter the emphasis of freewill continues to show itself. For example:

“Then every some came whose heart was stirred, and everyone whose spirit was willing,” (vs 21)

“They came, both men and women, as many as had a willing heart,” (vs 22)

“The children of Israel brought a freewill offering to the Lord, all the men and women whose hearts were willing,” (vs 29)

Now the Lord may not be asking me to bring material to build a tabernacle in the literal sense, but He is asking me to serve Him with a willing heart. It’s a choice that only I can make. He can prepare a way for me, but it is only I that can choose out of my own freewill to step out onto the water and follow Him. The Lord doesn’t force me, He only asks that my heart be willing. It means absolutely nothing if my service isn’t of a willing heart, because is that really glorifying to Him? If I am going to serve Him, I want it to be out of a thankful heart for what He has done in my life, not because I feel like its a burden that I must do. Just look at how many times the word “willing” or “freewill” is used in chapter 35, if it was repeated so many times it’s probably for a reason. That is my prayer, that whatever task I am given, I do it with a willing heart no matter what it is. Whether teaching in schools, running kid’s club, cleaning or outreaches, it all means nothing if I’m doing it and my heart isn’t in the right place. What the Lord asks for above all is a humble heart and open hands, willing to receive and have taken away. I am willing to be used for His glory, to be His servant, and His hands and feet. I am willing to be taken outside my comfort zone to the open waters where I can know more of You.