Numbers 8:1-9:23; Mark 13:14-37; Psalm 50:1-23; Proverbs 10:29-30
I am a planner. I like to know what is going to happen in a day, or a week, and anticipate the events to come. I like to strategize the best way to make things happen efficiently and smoothly. Things don’t always go according to plan, especially with 4 young children, but I usually have a pretty good idea of where they are heading. My husband is not a planner. He is a go-with-whatever-is-happening-cheerfully kind of guy. There are many times I think it is easier to live as this latter kind of person. I mean, you never have to get upset when things don’t go according to plan or you don’t know what’s happening, right? He would have fit it well to the Israelites' way of living at this time. Me, not so much.
In Numbers 9:17-23, we see how the Israelites would live day by day. If the “cloud lifted from the Tent, the Israelites set out; wherever the cloud settled, the Israelites encamped” (vs. 17). As long as the cloud stayed, they stayed. When it lifted, they went. They never knew how long it would stay or when it would lift. Sometimes it would only be for one night, and sometimes it would be for “two days or a month or a year” (vs. 22). Can you imagine setting up your family tent every night not knowing if you were just going to roll it up again in the morning, or if it was going to stay a whole year? I mean, should we even drive the stakes in? What do I tell my children? And what about the promise of God? What does wandering around in the desert, coming and going, have to do with fulfilling the promise of God to dwell in the promised land?
Good thing I didn’t live back then. Life is so much more settled and predictable now. But wait, is it? In Mark 13:14-37, we read Jesus’ words about the end times and his return. His words to his disciples, and to his followers for the generations to come, don’t give that controlled, settled feeling. “No one knows about that day or hour….Be on guard! Be alert! You do no know when that time will come….Therefore keep watch….Do not let him find you sleeping.…I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’” (vs. 32-37). These are not words that cause us to settle back, or drive our stakes into our tents and plan for a long, easy stay. No, Jesus’ words remind us that our lives here are very much transitory. We should live in a posture that is ready at any moment to pack up and head out.
I am challenged greatly by these two readings. How easy it is to think my plans are the most important thing to be accomplished each day and week. But am I watching? Am I alert? Do I live ready for Jesus to return? These verses have always challenged me. I don’t want to be found asleep. I don’t want to be lulled into thinking only about things of this world and miss out on what my Mighty God is doing. He is always moving and working. Will I join him or will I be so set on holding tightly to my own carefully crafted plans?
Lord, help me to live ready to move or stay at your command. Help me to live ready for you to return any moment. Help me to let go of my carefully crafted plans and be alert and ready to follow your plans. I am never alone as I travel along. Proverbs 10:29 says, “The way of the LORD is a refuge for the righteous.” In you I find my true and eternal home.
- Mary Matthias
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