Could trusting the Lord be this simple?

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Whenever the cloud lifted from over the sacred tent, the people of Israel would break camp and follow it. And wherever the cloud settled, the people of Israel would set up camp. In this way, they traveled and camped at the LORD’s command wherever he told them to go. Then they remained in their camp as long as the cloud stayed over the Tabernacle. Numbers 9:17-18 NLT

Has God changed since he trained the Hebrews to follow his lead? Good heavens, no!  But functionally, we who proclaim to be followers of Jesus tend to act like he has. 

The other day, I saw this so clearly as I read the passage from Numbers. I started to put myself in the place of one of those Hebrew families:  ‘Why does Yahweh seem to be training us to look up each morning when we peek out our tent flap?  We never know until the sun is rising whether today will be a pack-and-move day or a stay- in-camp day.’

Surely, the night before they would have talked over their plans for the following morning.  One woman might have said to her neighbor, ‘Oh, tomorrow, I need to teach my oldest daughter how to press the olives for oil, so we can light the tabernacle candles.’  Or a Levite father might have intended to show his son how to take down the tent.

I’m no different. I keep a calendar.  I have in mind what I want to accomplish tomorrow.  I make a list of tasks around my programmed activities that I must attend to.

In the past year, though, I’ve been working on checking in with the Lord each morning and listening for his direction while I read the day’s appointed Bible passages and pray.

But this new mental picture of the body language of these wandering Hebrews has gripped me. Their 40-year-long camping adventure was one big dress rehearsal for the rest of their lives.  They learned to obey through repetitive daily practice.

In one sense, life was far simpler for them than it is for us in 2022 America. They were forced to depend on God for their daily needs.  Their food came from him, their plans came from him, their jobs came from him. 

Maybe if we were ‘reduced’ to that level of subsistence living, our functional atheism would be squeezed out of us. Through repetition, we would really come to know and trust the Lord as provided new mercies, met our needs for food, protected and guided us. In many ways, those Hebrews were blessed through their hardships because all they had was the Lord.

This is what the LORD says— your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is good for you and leads you along the paths you should follow.” Isaiah 48:17 NLT

Provisions for the day

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Pill containers

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. – Phil 4:19

Give us today our daily bread. – Luke 11:3  (Keep us alive with three square meals – The Message paraphrase)

I’m getting ready to take students to Québec for a French class ‘field trip’.  Planning ahead for the 6 day absence, I bought this pill container so I can leave Mike’s vitamins and meds for him clearly marked and safe from the cats.

Each color-coded plastic mini box will supply what he needs for a specific period of time. The clear markings and different colors broadcast sufficiency and timeliness. It would not make sense nor be healthy for my husband to take from other than the scheduled provision.

God provides the same way, by giving us enough grace (strength, wisdom, money, work, SLEEP, knowledge, whatever we need) for the moment. If I worry about ‘later’, I’m actually stealing from future stockpiled grace.  (Our cousin calls it – ‘stepping out of the circle of God’s grace.’) Just like I will set out pills for Mike before I depart, so God has furnished supplies for our future needs.  The verb to pro-vide, if you break it into component parts, means:

  • in advance
  • seeing

God sees what will sustain us, minute by minute, our entire life, that is –  in advance of NOW. And we know that our God is loving, good and personal.  So it’s not like He is going to peer into the future, observe our needs and then shrug, “Hope they can handle THAT event. Good luck to them!”

Here’s the point.  Just like Mike is going to trust me that I’ve pre-positioned the requisite pills he requires for the appropriate segment of the day, so too we Christians should trust our Father in heaven to do the same. In the 35 years of our marriage, Mike has learned to place his confidence in me, assured that I will do him good and not harm.  Can’t we at least trust God THAT much?

During the past 2 months of ‘health issues’ (2 unexceptional little words that pack a punch), we’ve seen God come through time and time again.  My daily mantra has become:  ‘Manna for the day; Grace for this moment’ and I’ve clung to Psalm 84:11 – ‘No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.’ 

I’m ashamed to admit, that for me, it is STILL a fight, to trust God in those scary moments when I SEE no provision.  It’s then, more than at any other time, that I have to speak Words of Truth to me!  So I recite out loud as many of His promises as I can, those assurances that He IS in fact caring for me and supplying what I need. I think it was Martin Luther who taught that we must daily preach the good news, the Gospel, first and foremost to ourselves!

As Jeremiah himself learned and then turned and comforted the exiled –

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
    “therefore I will hope in him.”  Jeremiah 3:22-24

 

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