February 10, 2017
“By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way …” Exodus 13:21a (NIV)
It had been a hard and long day. Maybe you can relate?
Problems abounded, and my head was spinning from all the difficult decisions I faced. For weeks, I searched for supportive Scriptures and hoped I would glean a definitive, holy answer to my questions. I stayed alert for any trace of God speaking. I wanted to hear His voice loud and clear. I looked for patterns in things I read or heard. And I continually sought precise affirmation in the choices I was leaning toward.
My thoughts ran rampant. What if I made a wrong decision? What if I thought I heard God’s voice, but instead it was just my own emotions or feelings controlling my thoughts? Was it too much to ask to get a blinking neon arrow dropped down from Heaven to point the way?
So on this particularly frustrating day, I stopped trying to figure everything out. I stopped looking for a blaring answer from God. I simply began to pray.
I prayed for wisdom, clarity and guidance about how to move forward. I prayed for peace and hope to fill my heart and mind — leaving no room for confusion and negative thoughts. I prayed that decision-making would be an extension of my faith, not an exhaustion of my efforts.
I whispered, Amen, opened my eyes, and looked out the window. Immediately, I noticed groups of big, puffy, white clouds in the sky. As I watched the clouds drift slowly across the bright blue sky, our key verse in Exodus 13 came to mind, and I reached for my Bible.
“By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way …” (Exodus 13:21a).
Shortly after their rescue from Egypt, God led the Israelites through the wilderness. He guided them during daytime with a cloud, and at night He provided a pillar of fire. I found myself wishing for a holy cloud of my own to guide me.
Instead of a cloud, I had a cloudy mind. I was so worried to make a wrong decision I couldn’t make any decisions at all. I felt lost in a wilderness, much like the Israelites.
Yet as I read through this passage of Exodus, my heart began to lighten. Exodus 13:17-18 tells us, “When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, ‘If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt. So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of Egypt ready for battle.’”
God didn’t lead them down the short path, possibly one that was easier, because they might not have felt the need to fully rely on Him. Or they might have been tempted to take a wrong path when things got tough. Because of this, God led them through the more difficult path, around the desert and toward the Red Sea. It was a long, difficult journey but God was always before them. They trusted God to lead the way, even if they didn’t understand it, and their lives and faith were saved as a result.
As these lessons in this story came to mind, my thoughts became less cloudy and I rested in knowing God would be my guide. If I walk down the right path, God will be there with me. But if I take a wrong turn, He will still be there, redirecting me, guiding me and leading me out of the wilderness. In fact, He may take me down the most difficult journey, with full intention of growing my faith along the way.
I closed my Bible, and a smile crept across my face. I may not have a cloud I can see with my eyes, but I can trust God is always leading the way. God may lead us into the wilderness, and He may even guide us there to camp for a while, but He will never leave us there. Regardless of the decisions we make, we’ll never be on any path alone.
Lord, sometimes I would love a blinking neon sign or a cloud to guide me and confirm Your will for the decisions I face. But Your presence is truly what I desire. Help me rest, knowing You are always with me, and if I stumble or go down a wrong path, You will lead me in Your way. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Psalm 119:105, “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.” (NLT)
In Tracie Miles’ book, Stressed-Less Living, discover how to tap into God’s solutions for stress instead of the temporary relief the world has to offer.
Visit Tracie Miles’ blog for tips on how to transform your thinking and learn to trust God with your decisions. Plus get a sneak peek of the awesome freebies available soon with purchase of Tracie’s upcoming new book, Unsinkable Faith: Transforming the Way You Think, Feel and Live.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
What major decisions have you been fretting over and trying to figure out on your own rather than resting in God and trusting He will guide you and go before you?
Ask God to help you give the situation fully to Him today.
© 2017 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.
Originally published Friday, 10 February 2017.