Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Convo with Pastor - Numbers 9:15, 17-19

On the day the tabernacle was set up,
the cloud covered the tabernacle ...
Whenever the cloud lifted from over the tent,
then the Israelites would set out;
and in the place where the cloud settled down,
there the Israelites would camp. 
At the command of the Lord the Israelites would set out,
and at the command of the Lord they would camp.
Numbers 9:15,17-18
 
I love that simple pattern of obedience:
  • At the command of the Lord the Israelites would set out,
  • and at the command of the Lord they would camp.
I wish I'd always have that kind of clear-cut obedience, but I also realize that it would be nice to have such clear signs:
  • Whenever the cloud lifted ... the Israelites would set out;
  • and [when] the cloud settled down... [they] would camp.
Wouldn't it be nice if God's plans for you came with a trail of smoke leading the way? "Come on, Marvin, your next job is over here. Follow the bouncing cloud." 
 
No ... it's not quite as simple as "follow the bouncing cloud." Rather, life is like a river. God does give us some firm guidelines and barriers. His word and his laws are like immovable rocks on one side of this river of life (and sometimes people crash their life into them and their lives are a shipwreck). 
 
The other side of the river is softer. Character and wisdom are more like weeds and reeds. God allows us a whole lot more leeway on this bank. Indeed, most of us get bogged down from time to time by compromising our character and settling for dubious wisdom. Yes, too much of our lives -- whether we realize it or not -- is spent tangled in the weeds.
 
On the other hand, the safest, quickest, most joyful course is going God's way -- straight down the middle of the river of life. Some people see straight as a straight jacket, but there's still a lot of freedom. We can paddle fast ... or gently drift ... or pause all day to fish. We can spend our time enjoying the journey and singing praise as we go.
 
Here's all we need to know: God's plans for us are clearer than we think. All we have to do is go God's way rather than get tangled up in our own.
 
In Christ's Love,
a guy who notices the clouds more
when he not fighting the weeds
--------------------------------------
Is it wrong that the music from 'Deliverance' popped into my head? [paddle faster - I hear banjo music]

I wish ... wish ... wish that God still used such obvious signs such as clouds to follow. And still spoke audibly like he did with Moses and others in the old testament. I also wish it was as easy as staying in the middle of the rive like Pastor suggests.

However, it's not. I have often floated down rivers, fished, etc.  And the currents, twists, turns, obstacles, etc make it difficult to stay in the middle.  You drift to one side or the other. You get tangled in branches and weeds. The wind comes up and blows you off course. There are forks in the river and you have to determine which way to take.  One can be too shallow to traverse and one can be filled with junk that impedes your journey.   We have to be able to listen to God's quiet voice to know which way to go.

I also thought of one of my favorite Garth Brooks songs ... 'The River'

You know a dream is like a river
Ever changin' as it flows
And a dreamer's just a vessel
That must follow where it goes
Trying to learn from what's behind you
And never knowing what's in store
Makes each day a constant battle
Just to stay between the shores...

[chorus]
And, I will sail my vessel
'Til the river runs dry
Like a bird upon the wind
These waters are my sky
I'll never reach my destination
If I never try
So I will sail my vessel
'Til the river runs dry

Too many times we stand aside
And let the waters slip away
'Til what we put off 'til tomorrow
Has now become today
So don't you sit upon the shoreline
And say you're satisfied
Choose to chance the rapids
And dare to dance the tide...

[chorus]

There's bound to be rough waters
And I know I'll take some falls
But with the good Lord as my captain
I can make it through them all...

[chorus]

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Speak gently. carefully. thoughtfully. graciously. humbly.

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