Should I stay or should I go now? If I go there will be trouble. If I stay it will be double. So c’mon and let me know. Should I stay or should I go?
If you are somewhere in my age range, the music of The Clash accompanies the words above in your head. I don’t know about you, but some variation of this sentiment rolls around quite often in my life. Whether it is me personally or one of my kids or us as a family, there are always decisions that require us to ask “Do we sit still where we are or move forward into a new place?”
My husband and I have had this feeling lately. With our nest close to empty we wonder what the future holds. And as we contemplate some needed repairs and updating in our house, this question pops up even more. What does God have for us in the coming years? Will we downsize sooner rather than later? Will new opportunities come our way that we need to be ready to take? And so as I’ve been reading through the Old Testament, especially where the Lord is leading His people by a cloud in the wilderness, Numbers 9:21-23 jumped off the page at me.
Sometimes the cloud was over the tabernacle only a few days, at the Lord’s command they would encamp, and then at His command they would set out. Sometimes the cloud stayed only from evening til morning, and when it lifted in the morning, they set out. Whether by day or by night, whenever the cloud lifted they set out. Whether the cloud stayed over the tabernacle for two days or a month or a year, the Israelites would reamin in camp and not set out; but when it lifted, they would set out.
We know the Lord is leading us toward a destination, just as the children of Israel knew they were being led to the Promised Land, but we have no idea what that place looks like or where it will be. Notice that sometimes the Israelites stayed a night in one place. Sometimes days. Months. Even a year. I think of how frustrated I get when I don’t know how long I will be in one house, one school, one city, one church, etc., so I’ll know whether to settle in or put my life on hold, waiting to uproot.
Yet God didn’t give the Israelites that luxury of knowing the travel itinerary ahead of time. And He doesn’t do that for us, either. We instead walk the precarious and often unsettling line of being content to stay put and of being free enough to move when He says move. That’s not a place I’m particularly comfortable in, but I’m trying to be. I know the Lord has His best in mind as well as His perfect timing. My job is to believe that so deeply that it infects the very way I live. I guess it’s embracing the truth of Hebrews 11:1: Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
I want my life to be an embodiment of that faith. I want to wait patiently or move joyfully, doing either with my gaze fixed on the One I am certain of even if my eyes cannot see His form.
(Confession: I tried a bazillion times to embed the video of Chris Tomlin’s I Will Follow here, but it just wouldn’t work. So here’s the link if you are so inclined: http://youtu.be/nnwz3xx_yGs)
What about you? Have you made peace with that place of not holding too tightly to any resting place in your journey?