No one likes wandering. At best, some of us can tolerate it in small doses, but wandering has a short shelf life. There needs to be a plan, a path, or an answer; we are a productive people.
I was thinking about this the other night as my small group dialogued about the wandering Israelites. As a high school student, I was hard on the Israelites. They had no excuse for doubt. Each day they could look up and see the Lord up ahead. They could even catch a glance on a restless night. The fire of the Lord always hung in front of them.
The older I get, the more I understand/sympathize with the Israelites. They are out in the wilderness wandering. Wandering. Now I know they should be content with life with God. The wandering should be made easier with the cloud of God leading them, but how well has that faired for me? Not well.
I can make account of how God has worked in my life. The list is quite long actually. I have seen God in the face of my family and friends. People, both my blood relatives and those who are not, who love me and are proud of me. God has graced me with a cloud a witnesses, which happens to be a curious term. I wonder what the Hebrew writer was getting at there. Maybe s/he was alluding to the cloud of God up ahead. Maybe the same vision the Israelites were graced with has been my experience all along.
I see God acting all over the place, but what is difficult is the uncertainty. I wonder if there is a question for us practical, get-things-done folks. Is God’s presence enough? Without the guidance or much of a plan, even in times of wandering, is the I AM enough to sustain?
I have to be honest with you…the question haunts me. It haunts me because the way I want to answer is different than reality. The times I am most aware of God is when things are going well for me; when it seems a plan is working out. This text read me as the readings are prone to do. My wiring is so similar. The presences of God is often related to God’s blessing. It is easy for me to wonder about the ebb and flow of God’s presence because of my circumstances, yet this not a good account of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Ours is a present God. Our God is with us in the long and the short moments, yet that does not mean silence might not come.
Is God enough for you even in your wandering?