I joke constantly that I married my husband for his understanding of math, his business mind, and his understanding of the Old Testament. It’s truly a joke but his thought processes on those topics have given me a desire to know more in depth and think critically because they don’t come naturally to me.
It’s no secret to people we know and love this last year has been scary, hard, emotional, and with a lot of unknowns. You can read more here.
But with days of the “unknown”– there’s been a lot of days where our world had to stand still because I wasn’t feeling well or there were appointments after appointments. This roadblocked a lot of production, organization and ministry on days where I or James really desired to and forced the delay to another day.
Much like the last week and half, we had two sick kids and adding in a new member of the family made it no less difficult. Our man on man team went to zones. 10 days where I just wanted to study my Bible or be there ministry wise for people I love, I was instead rocking littles and cleaning throw up out of hair. Before the Lord snapped me out of it, I felt like this was another added layer of no control where illness encroached on our home and felt like another hit on top of several others that are far too detailed to share.
This familiar feeling of no control (for over a year) has loomed over me layer after layer. and forced me to rely on the strength of the Lord or people around me. It made me cling to Scripture and prayer in a way that made me trust in a Savior in not doing the work myself but instead relying on Him more than ever.
For someone who has been intimidated by the Old Testament most of my life, the book of Numbers has has been more than daunting. I hate to admit it but I shudder at the name of the book. Maybe it’s because I get flashbacks of math class where I struggled to keep my eyes open. Or maybe it’s just because the Old Testament is something I have to work at, just like I did in Math class all of my life.
As I read over Chapter 9, again, because like I said I have to work at it— I realized something so humbling.
On the day that the tabernacle was set up, the cloud covered the tabernacle, the tent of the testimony. And at evening it was over the tabernacle like the appearance of fire until morning. So it was always: the cloud covered it by day and the appearance of fire by night. And whenever the cloud lifted from over the tent, after that the people of Israel set out, and in the place where the cloud settled down, there the people of Israel camped. At the command of the Lord the people of Israel set out, and at the command of the Lord they camped. As long as the cloud rested over the tabernacle, they remained in camp. Even when the cloud continued over the tabernacle many days, the people of Israel kept the charge of the Lord and did not set out. Sometimes the cloud was a few days over the tabernacle, and according to the command of the Lord they remained in camp; then according to the command of the Lord they set out. And sometimes the cloud remained from evening until morning. And when the cloud lifted in the morning, they set out, or if it continued for a day and a night, when the cloud lifted they set out. Whether it was two days, or a month, or a longer time, that the cloud continued over the tabernacle, abiding there, the people of Israel remained in camp and did not set out, but when it lifted they set out. At the command of the Lord they camped, and at the command of the Lord they set out. They kept the charge of the Lord, at the command of the Lord by Moses.
The Israelites were an enslaved people in Egypt who were liberated through a miracle. The Lord called Moses to be their leader and as they marched around the desert for forty years, the Lord blessed them with food, gave them purpose through the twelve tribes, and gave them incredibly detailed instructions for survival and for building of the tabernacle. This chapter hit me quite differently. I can just imagine the Israelites looking outside and above, watching and waiting. Waiting on the clouds, the physical sign to continue to rest, wait, and trust. Or them going about their day and then looking up and out and seeing the cloud lifted and knowing it was time to press forward, time to move on. Talk about an abrupt interruption, from gloom to glow, just like that.
When you read this, you may just read this as a literal cloud. But when I read this, I saw protection, purpose, trust, and direction. The Israelites trusted in His command. It was for their good. Much like the Israelites, I feel like my family has been in a season of watching for clouds. I’m not finding purpose in the moving but rather the waiting, the watching, and trusting Him for the cloud to lift- whether it’s two days or a month or years. And that’s taken time (over a year now as of January 4th). My cloud has seemed to thicken with density… testing, pressing in, looming with the question: Jillian, are you being obedient to productivity, or to me? Yikes. This steps all over my Enneagram 2, STRONG 3 wing self. Cloud after cloud has shown me that:
*Unhealthy productivity doesn’t equal trust.
*Unhealthy productivity doesn’t include rest.
*Unhealthy productivity doesn’t show the love of Jesus but instead it showcases my pride.
That leaves me here pressing into the words of Numbers, trusting, waiting– and working diligently on not finding my worth in the moving. Instead, I’m in the season of watching the clouds, learning obedience and trust until He sees it’s time for the cloud to lift and the fire to begin.
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