(The Faith Forum Series – Batch 4)
When God says to move, we must move and when he tells us to wait, we must wait.
Sometimes, as women though, when we look at where we are at and consider where we would like to be, sometimes it can seem as if God is taking too long or that he does not intend to take us anywhere meaningful in life. We desire so much but all we are ever greeted with on a day to day basis, is stuck.
The single woman that is desirous of marriage for example, may look on longingly, hoping that this would be the day at long last, that God would give the command for her to move forward. She wants to leave her season of singleness and move into a courtship (dating), an engagement and marriage.
Many a married woman also looks on, hoping that today would be the day that the pregnancy test would come back positive, so that she and her husband can finally have that child that they’ve been dreaming off, for all of their marriage thus far.
Admittedly, for many of us, when we are at a standstill but want to make some sort of progress in some sphere of our lives (be it personally, professionally, financially, academically or otherwise), we can be tempted to ask of God, when we see the days, weeks, months and even years rolling on and we are in THE SAME POSITION (even as others seem to be making significant strides and headway): “What is the hold up? Does God intend to take us anywhere? Why is he taking so long? Has he forgotten us?”
Yet, the account given in Numbers 9 of the Israelites, illustrates a beautiful point, when it comes to both waiting on God and moving forward.
In Numbers 9, God had already taken his people the Israelites out of Egypt and they were now in the wilderness, in the second year after they had come out of Egypt. Where they were was meant to be a temporary abode, as God had promised to one day take them into a land that was described as flowing with milk and honey. While in the wilderness therefore, they relied on God’s leading for when to move forward and when to stay put and in what direction they should go. After all, only he knew where the Promised Land was and the route that he wanted them to take to get there. Only he had the Master Plan for their lives and the competence to get them where they should be.
God’s presence being with them where they were, he covered the tabernacle with a cloud in the day and by fire in the night. The Israelites were to only move forward when that cloud or fire moved, as they understood that when it moved, it was signalling that God wanted them to move forward. When the cloud or fire remained however, no matter how short or how long, even if they did not know why, they understood that they were to wait and to rest in their tents.
The Bible reads:
- “And on the day that the tabernacle was reared up the cloud covered the tabernacle, namely, the tent of the testimony: and at even there was upon the tabernacle as it were the appearance of fire, until the morning. So it was alway: the cloud covered it by day, and the appearance of fire by night.
- And WHEN THE CLOUD WAS TAKEN UP from the tabernacle, then after that the children of Israel JOURNEYED: and IN THE PLACE WHERE THE CLOUD ABODE, there the children of Israel PITCHED their tents. At the commandment of the Lord the children of Israel JOURNEYED, and at the commandment of the Lord they PITCHED: as long as the cloud abode upon the tabernacle they rested in their tents.
- AND WHEN THE CLOUD TARRIED LONG upon the tabernacle MANY DAYS, then the children of Israel KEPT THE CHARGE OF THE LORD, AND JOURNEYED NOT.
- AND SO IT WAS, WHEN THE CLOUD WAS A FEW DAYS upon the tabernacle; according to the commandment of the Lord THEY ABODE IN THEIR TENTS, and according to the commandment of the Lord they journeyed. 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.
- OR WHETHER IT WERE TWO DAYS, OR A MONTH, OR A YEAR, THAT THE CLOUD TARRIED UPON THE TABERNACLE, REMAINING THERON, THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL ABODE IN THEIR TENTS, AND JOURNEYED NOT: BUT WHEN IT WAS TAKEN UP, THEY JOURNEYED. At the commandment of the Lord THEY RESTED in the tents, and at the commandment of the Lord THEY JOURNEYED: they kept the charge of the Lord, at the commandment of the Lord by the hand of Moses.”
The lesson in this scripture is clear.
When it comes to our lives, in his wisdom, God guides those who are his and we are to trust him no matter what. When he gives the command for us to move forward, we must move forward and when he wants us to stand still, we must rest in the safety of our ‘tents’, content to know that he has a plan, that he knows what he is doing and that we should never therefore, take things into our own hands and venture out on our own, ahead of him.
The scripture states that “…as long as the cloud abode upon the tabernacle THEY RESTED IN THEIR TENTS.“
Resting in their tents suggests waiting, not with discontentment or in complaint, dissatisfaction or anxiety but with a good attitude, patiently and in full trust, that the one with the Master Plan has everything, even timing, under HIS control.
It is also important to point out that the scripture states that, “IN THE PLACE WHERE THE CLOUD ABODE, THERE the children of Israel PITCHED their tents.“
The place where the cloud abode was where the presence of the Lord was and so it was right in that place and no other, that the Israelites pitched their tents. No wonder they were able to rest in their tents, for they were in the presence of the Lord!
Psalm 16:11 states of the Lord, “Thou wilt shew me the path of life: IN THY PRESENCE is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.”
Similarly, when we are in the presence of the Lord and squarely within his will, when we have pitched the ‘tents’ of our lives where he is, we can patiently and contentedly wait on him and with a good attitude, whether it is “…two days, or a month, or a year…”, that the ‘cloud’ of his purposes for our lives tarries. When that ‘cloud’ is taken up, signaling for us to move forward, only then will we do so and not a moment sooner.
Unfortunately, many a professing believer fail to rest in their ‘tents’, taking much thought for tomorrow (although the Bible advises against it) and worrying about their situation. Some have failed to pitch their tents where the Lord is but have strayed, moved away and set up their lives elsewhere. Like Lot, they lifted up their eyes and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where and they then moved forward and pitched their tents there (Genesis 13:10;11).
Like Lot, all they reap from this unwise action is restlessness and disquiet. For, one can only experience rest where the presence of the Lord is.
2 Peter 2:7-8 tells us of Lot, that, while in that place that he had chosen to pitch the tent of his life, his righteous soul was vexed from day to day. He never therefore, experienced the peace of God which passes all understanding, in that place that he chose, solely through what he could see and how things appeared.
In his defence, he had to move somewhere away from his uncle Abram but not once does it seem, that he gave any spiritual consideration to the place he chose to pitch his tent. It does not seem that he was diligent in finding out about the people and the practices in Sodom before moving there and in particular, whether the Lord would be pleased to dwell there with him. He simply saw that the plain was well-watered and seemingly, based on this earthly, materialistic consideration alone, he made the decision to pitch his tent in Sodom.
Sadly, some professing believers have taken the misguided view, when God would have had them to wait and to pitch the tent of their lives where he abode, that he was taking too long. Accordingly, in faithlessness, they took matters into their own hands, only to end up pregnant outside of wedlock or tied to a man in a loveless or even psychologically, verbally or physically abusive marriage or in a much worse position than they were in initially. Some are in unequally yoked marriages and their soul is vexed everyday.
They rolled the dice and thought they could play on their own and did not need God’s guidance and like the Prodigal in the Bible, many of them ended up ‘burnt’. Life chewed them and when it was done, it spit them out and left them there to try to make sense of their mess and ruins. Some have even lost their lives and this was because they found it too hard to wait on God and whatever he had purposed for their lives. In short, they did not trust his leading.
Then there is the other type of signal that God gives and this too requires us to exercise faith. Sometimes, God tells us to move forward without much notice and far quicker than we had anticipated or expected. The light suddenly turns to green and we wonder, what are we to do when we are completely caught off-guard? What are we to do when God wants us to move forward much sooner than we had hoped, expected or liked and at what seems to be at an unlikely or inopportune time? Are we to tarry and take our time like Lot did when the angels were trying to hasten him and his family out of Sodom, which was about to be destroyed?
Genesis 19:15-16 states of Lot:
- “And when the morning arose, then the angels hastened Lot, saying, Arise, take thy wife, and thy two daughters, which are here; lest thou be consumed in the iniquity of the city. And while he lingered, the men laid hold upon his hand, and upon the hand of his wife, and upon the hand of his two daughters; the Lord being merciful unto him: and they brought him forth, and set him without the city.”
The morale of the story is this: When God tells us to wait, no matter how long, we must wait and with a good attitude but conversely, if he gives a sudden and unexpected command for us to move forward, whether it is at night or at day or much sooner than we had anticipated, we must get up at that point and do so.
In Numbers 9, it stated:
- “WHETHER IT WAS BY DAY OR BY NIGHT THAT THE CLOUD WAS TAKEN UP, THEY JOURNEYED.…At the commandment of the Lord they rested in the tents, and at the commandment of the Lord THEY JOURNEYED: they kept the charge of the Lord, at the commandment of the Lord by the hand of Moses.”
In Matthew 1:20, Joseph had an unexpected signal to move forward, at a point that he did not expect. The scripture states of him, the man who was engaged to be married to Mary but had decided that he could not marry her because she was pregnant, that the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream. That angel told him, while he was sleeping, not to be afraid to move forward in marriage to Mary and that the child in her womb, Jesus, had been conceived of the Holy Ghost and would save his people from their sins.
In response, Joseph was not tardy. He got up in faith, obeyed the Lord and moved forward. Verse 24 reads that in obedience, “…Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife.”
Also, when Peter had been imprisoned by Herod and the plan was to have him killed, he was visited suddenly in his prison at night, when he did not expect it, by God’s angel, who told him to get up immediately and follow him.
Peter had been asleep at the time and therefore had to be awoken by the angel. Yet, it was his instant obedience in doing as he was commanded, without necessarily understanding everything that was happening, that secured Peter his freedom. In the middle of the night and from his prison, guards or not, God wanted him to move forward and to follow his angel right at that moment, without overthinking, without over-analyzing it and without questioning and so he did.
The Word of God states in Acts 12:6-11:
- “And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison. And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands. And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me.
- And he went out, and followed him; and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision.
- When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him. And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety, that the Lord hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews.”
When it comes to our lives, God wants and expects us to have a similar response. Just like a traffic light, although we don’t see the inner workings, we can completely trust the system. When the light turns green, even if we don’t feel like it, we must go forward and when it turns red, no matter how rushed we feel and impatient, we must stay put.
Even so, earthly systems fail and sometimes the traffic lights don’t work but God’s system, his plan, his methods, NEVER fail. We can therefore put our trust in him to lead us, no matter where we are or how things look or how we feel or how long or short he is taking, to give us that green light to move forward.
Unlike the traffic light system which simply tells us when to move forward, when to get ready to go and when to stay put but does not accompany us on our journey, God never asks his children to wait without him or to move forward without his guidance. He has promised to never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).
In Exodus 33:14, for example, he told Moses, “My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.” In similar fashion, in Psalm 32:8, he told David, “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.“
As I get ready to close, there is one more thing I think it important to highlight. In Acts 12, it says of Peter and the angel who was leading him, that, “When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; WHICH OPENED TO THEM OF HIS OWN ACCORD…”
This reminds us that when we move forward when God wants us to move forward, in obedience, without delay and even when we don’t understand, when we move according to his will, his purpose, in his timing (even if unexpected) and in the direction that he wants us to go, doors tend to open of their own accord. That is, without discounting the fact that sometimes opposition will rear its ugly head, when in faith, we move according to God’s leading and in HIS timing, without reservation and in complete submission, he has a way of allowing things to happen and doors to miraculously open for us. We will often find, while on that route that he wants us, that our steps forward are effortless because we are not carrying ourselves. HE is carrying us.
Peter himself can attest to this in terms of another experience he had with the Lord. Years prior to him being imprisoned, when Jesus was still on the earth, there was a point where he and other fishermen like himself, had fished all night but had caught nothing. They had therefore given up and were in the process of washing their nets, no doubt thinking that they had wasted their time, when Jesus entered the scene.
Despite them having tried their best all night to catch something and catching nothing, Jesus seemingly ignored this fact. After Simon Peter had obeyed him by allowing him to use his ship to speak to the people, when Jesus was finished attending to his Kingdom business, he then told Peter to go out into the deep and to let down his net for a draught, meaning a heavy catch.
Clearly, this did not seem to make any logical sense to Peter, as he had just come from exerting all of his effort, to no avail. The entire exercise had been a complete waste of time! YET, he decided to obey because the command had been given by Jesus his Lord. Like Mary the mother of Jesus had told the servants at the Wedding at Cana, Peter knew that “Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.” (John 2:5)
He therefore moved when Jesus wanted him to move and did what he had instructed. Having obeyed, the results blew his mind. For, he caught so much fish, that the net broke and his ship, plus a second ship that he and some other men poured the fish into were so full, that both ships began to sink. Without having to exert all the effort that he had exerted the night before therefore and to no avail, at Jesus’ command to launch out into the deep and to let down his nets, Peter caught a great number of fishes and effortlessly because it was God, operating through his obedience, that miraculously brought them into his net for him.
Luke 5:1-9 reads of Jesus:
- “And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret, And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon’s, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship.
- Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: NEVERTHELESS AT THY WORD I WILL LET DOWN THE NET.
- And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake. And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink.
- When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord. For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken…”
This is what happens when we obey God’s command to move forward, without questioning, without reasoning, without trying to understand why and without delay. God works miracles by HIS power and HIS might and doors open seemingly of their own accord.
On the other hand, when we move when God has not sanctioned it and wanted us to wait on him or we take off in a direction that he does not approve, we will find things difficult because we are fighting to sustain ourselves in our own effort. We will find ourselves fighting against doors that seem to not just be shut but padlocked because we moved ahead of God and without his leading.
One more thing is apparent from the incident with Peter and the fish. It is important to note that, when Jesus saw Peter and the other fishermen washing their nets, he did not immediately give the instruction for Peter to launch forth into the deep to catch a great number of fishes. He knew that they had spent all night and caught nothing and were probably feeling a bit down in the dumps at their wasted efforts. However, when Jesus arrived, the first thing he did was focus on his Kingdom business and he desired to use Peter’s ship for this purpose.
The Bible states of Jesus, that:
- “…it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him TO HEAR THE WORD OF GOD, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret, And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon’s, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and TAUGHT THE PEOPLE OUT OF THE SHIP.“
Despite how down in the dumps Peter may have been feeling at the moment therefore, Jesus desired to use his ship to speak spiritual matters to the people and Peter made himself and his ship available to be used. He did not make an excuse or say, Lord, I had a rough night. I caught nothing and I am therefore feeling too down at the moment to help you.
No. He obeyed the Lord’s wish and took him out a little from the land as he desired. Jesus then sat down in that ship and taught the people the Word of God out of that ship.
It was only after Jesus had finished pursuing spiritual matters, that he attended to Peter’s need. As the all-knowing God, he knew that Peter was tired, that he had toiled for many hours that night and that he had caught nothing. Yet, when he initially arrived on the scene, he mentioned nothing of it and simply gave Peter an instruction that had nothing to do with Peter’s situation or his flesh or his physical needs.
Peter obeyed and Jesus taught the people. It was only after this had been done and Jesus was finished speaking to the people, that Jesus attended to Peter’s issue. As stated before, it was not that he did not know or did not care about Peter’s situation but his actions underscored the very important principle as enunciated in Matthew 6:31-33, where Jesus stated:
- “Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. BUT SEEK YE FIRST THE KINGDOM OF GOD, AND HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS, AND ALL THESE THINGS SHALL BE ADDED UNTO YOU.”
It is always to be God’s Kingdom business FIRST and our needs, which are far less important, being met AFTER. It is always to be a pursuit of SPIRITUAL THINGS first and the attending to our PHYSICAL needs after.
The Word of God states of Jesus AFTER he had finished attending to his Kingdom business and Peter had allowed him to use his ship for this purpose, “Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.“
Similarly, God desires to use the ‘ship’ of his children, meaning their lives, their resources, their gifts, their abilities and their talents, for HIS divine purposes. When we see about his business FIRST and make ourselves and whatever we have, available for him to use, AFTERWARDS, he then attends to our needs.
It was never that he did not care or did not know about our needs. It wasn’t that he forgot about us or didn’t see us when we were toiling all night. It was that there is a divine order that must exist in order for God’s blessings to flow. This divine order is this: See about his Kingdom business FIRST, make ourselves and our resources available for him to use, deny ourselves and advance HIS agenda to bring people the Word of God, to see souls saved and saints edified and then, only then, does HE usually attend to our needs and move us forward beautifully.
(Written on 25th September, 2021, added to thereafter)
Some hours after writing the above Article, a thought came to me, which is this: Sometimes the call to move forward with the Lord, requires us to drop something or someone. It may require us to let go a job, a relationship that has not yet advanced to marriage, a friendship, a familiar place, country or something that means a lot to us.
Abraham (formely called Abram) could attest to this. When God called him to leave his family and his country and to move forward, although he had not a clue where God was taking him, in trust, he obeyed. Genesis 12:1-4 states:
- “Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him…”
Hebrews 11:8-10 states further, that:
- “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.”
Later on, when God informed Abraham, that his son Ishmael whom he loved dearly, had to be sent away, although this hurt, he obeyed, as this was critical to God unfolding the next part of his plan. It was critical to Abraham and his son Isaac moving forward, as it was through Isaac and his seed, that God’s covenant with Abraham was going to be established (Genesis 21:11-14).
When that call comes, we must be prepared to let go of whatever we know God wants us to let go of, so that we can move forward.
“Remember Lot’s wife.” (Luke 17:32) She was called to move out of Sodom with her husband Lot and two of their daughters but evidently, she was not prepared to let go just yet. She and those who escaped with her were told not to look back but maybe because it seems that she had other daughters who were married to ungodly men and perished with those men in Sodom or a nice home and a nice life, she found it hard not to look back, possibly wishing that she could return. Maybe it was just out of curiosity. Whatever the reason, as a result of her disobedience, she was turned into a pillar of salt.
Genesis 19:17-26 states of the angels who carried Lot, his wife and two of his daughters out of Sodom:
- “And it came to pass, when they had brought them forth abroad, that he said, Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed…Haste thee, escape thither; for I cannot do anything till thou be come thither. Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar. The sun was risen upon the earth when Lot entered into Zoar. Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven; And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground. But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.“
(Written on 25th September, 2021)
Dear Reader, if you found the above Article to be interesting, informative, edifying or beneficial, you may also be interested in reading the following:
- Note 75 – ‘The Danger Of Impatience – He’s Taking Too Long‘
- Note 25 – ‘When Loneliness And Impatience Set In‘
- Note 42 – ‘When That Door Wouldn’t Budge’
- Note 70 – ‘Has He Forgotten Me?’
- Note 73 – ‘Wait For Your Ice Cream’
- Note 112 – ‘Lessons I Have Learned From The Lazarus Story’
- Note 142 – ‘Single Woes – The Battles We Singles Fight Everyday‘
- Note 148 – ‘What Does The Bible Say About Being Unequally Yoked With An Unbeliever?’
- Note 218 – ‘Just One Thing May Be Holding You Back’
- Note 222 – ‘What Is God Calling You To Cast Out Of Your Life?’
- Note 268 – ‘When You Don’t Wait On The Lord To Introduce You To Your Spouse‘
- Note 287 – ‘The Wait – The Period Between The Promise And The Manifestation Of The Promise‘
Additionally, under ‘Courting or Engaged Daughters of God’ Page:
- Note 34 – ‘Seven (7) Practical Things You Can Do While Waiting On Your Prince Charming‘
- Note 37 – ‘What Does It Mean To Wait With A Good Attitude?’
- Note 63 – ‘Who To Marry?’
Additionally, under ‘Bible-Believing Daughters of God’ Page:
- Note 165 – ‘Peter’s Imprisonment – Points I Gleaned From My Study Of Acts 12:1-19’