I would love to have a mocha with Moses. Among the myriad questions I might ask him over said mocha, a few rise quickly to the top of my curiosity list. I would love to pick his humble brain about the weight of leadership. After all, he carried some incredibly heavy weights with the grumbling nomadic town he essentially mayor-ed and all. I’d love to glean from the rich truths the Lord taught him in those in-between, liminal years he spent in Midian waiting. But I’d also love to hear him speak into God’s guidance.
As someone who spends many hours processing the mysteries and profundities of God’s will with young adults and also as someone who continues to wonder what I will do and be “when I grow up,” God’s guidance remains on the forefront of my heart and mind.
Moses knew God’s guidance up close and personal. Really personal. Like burning bush in your face and pillar of fire going on ahead of you close.
There was very little questioning involved in God’s guidance of Moses. He spoke to him after getting his attention from sheep to a strangely burning bush. He sent him very clearly with step-by-step instructions to Egypt to be an instrument of rescue for God’s enslaved people (see Exodus 3 & 4). As he held a staff in his hand as an instrument, God was holding Moses in His hands. His calling was clear, though not easy.
After the miraculous Red Sea crossing, God moved ahead of His homeless people in a miraculous and marvelously clear way.
And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them, and by night a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people (Exodus 13:21-22).
When wandering to the next encampment by day in the scorching desert wilderness sun, God provided a directing cloud to shade and steer them. In the frigid temperatures of the desert night of pitch black darkness, God provided them a directing fire to warm and direct their wandering. Their extremity became God’s great opportunity to provide for them and direct them.
I wonder if Moses ever feared that the pillar would stop directing him, if maybe this time, he would be left to his own devices or his own wisdom. I wrote the following poem from Moses’ perspective.
Follow the Fire
What if the cloud becomes concrete,
Leaving us stuck in no man’s land?
What if the fire fizzles and fades?
How’ll we know what you’ve planned?
I’ve learned to sense its gathering,
The readying again to roam.
In this wilderness wandering,
Your Presence has become home.
At times, I’m reluctant to roll up the tents,
To again loose these pegs from their place.
Yet I long to be postured to follow these
Pillars more deeply into your grace.
Remember, Lord, they follow me,
Heavy with hope, hard on my heals.
Compounding weight weights on me;
Be the One who continually reveals.
While You rain down on us manna,
Your map you keep close to your chest.
You would have our eyes on you
To know when to roam, when to rest.
Shekinah glory before and behind,
As You lead our sojourning sect.
For, no matter the travel or trial,
Your presence our path will perfect.
Oh, leading Lord, please make us those
Who follow the Lamb where’er He goes.
So often, I hear from others (and think to myself), “Well, if God would make His will that clear to me, of course I would follow. Life would be so much easier.”
We have something far better than a burning bush or a pillar of cloud or smoke. In fact, we don’t have a something at all. We have a someone called the Holy Spirit. Rather than whirl around outside of us intermittently, He has chosen to take up abode within us.
And we don’t have to wonder what the destination is. God’s will for every believer is that he or she be conformed to the image of Christ. As Paul wrote to the Church in Thessaloniki, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification” (1 Thessalonians 4:3).
We have the Holy Spirit, who descended on the disciples in Pentecost in tongues of fire, now indwelling us to direct and to guide us into all wisdom. Rather than guiding us into the promised land, the Spirit continually directs us towards our Lord.
Oh, may we be those who follow the Lamb wherever He goes (Revelation 14:4).