I have been desiring for the past months to leave my job and settle for another. It is not because I have seen a much greener pasture over the fence. It is because I am just dead-tired and unmotivated in my present situation.
And due to my stubbornness, I have been seeking ways how to leave my employer gracefully and find a new nest that I will belong to. I have been asking God to show me His ways and His will in this area of my life. I cried to Him desperately for nights. The anxiety of being unmotivated already grips me everyday. But I came to realize that somehow, I have been asking God for His will and He has in fact answered diligently. But I wouldn’t listen nor heed.
I was asking God to open and close doors for me but I did not intentionally gave Him the keys to the doors.
An answer came from the Lord about this through Hebrews 13:5 which says,
Be free from the love of money and pleased with the things which you have; for he himself has said, I will be with you at all times.
Do you know the feeling of having to take a medicine that is too bitter? You know you needed it to get well but you simply don’t want it. And it is exactly what I felt with God. I don’t want to stay here (in my job) anymore. I was hurt. I was betrayed. I don’t belong anymore. I am not happy.
And God telling me to be free from the love of money doesn’t comprehend with my reasoning now. I just can’t be pleased with the things I have now, much more with the situation I am in now. How can I be happy with a job that has left me with numerous heartaches and disappointments and broken relationships? I was questioning God if He really wants me to be happy in life. I wonder why He still wanted me to stay and endure the fact and presence of being reminded of my past hurts in this job.
I can’t appreciate where I am now. Much more so to appreciate God’s promise that He will be with me at all times.
So I was intrigued when I came upon this passage in Numbers 9 about the Israelites during their wanderings in the wilderness on their way to Canaan. As a brief review, these people of God were slaves under Egypt when God sent Moses to free them so they can serve Him. As descendants of Abraham and heirs to the covenant between God and Abraham, the Israelites were promised a piece of land flowing with milk and honey. Think about such good promise!
But God’s ways are different. Instead of directly bringing the people under Moses from point A to point B, He has led the people through the wilderness. He has also made instructions for them to build a tabernacle among them so “God Himself” could dwell among them.
It is quite hard for me to grasp and understand the reasons of why God did this but I can see it parallel in my prayer to the Lord about my willful desire to leave my job now.
15. And on the day when the House was put up, the cloud came down on it, on the Tent of witness; and in the evening there was a light like fire over the House till the morning. 16. And so it was at all times: it was covered by the cloud, and by a light as of fire by night.
God will always manifest His Presence in our life.
God was true to His word to the Israelites that His Presence will go before them and He will lead them out of Egypt with a mighty hand. And He even manifested His Presence with the people by giving them the privilege of having the Lord dwell among them.
It was like God saying, “I told you that I will be with you at all times. So here I am, with all my might and glory, “dwelling” (tabernacle) with and among you. You can’t see my face but you will know that I am with you because of the cloud and the fire.”
God has made an effort to make His Presence known among the people by making it physically manifested through the cloud settling in the tabernacle at day and through the pillar of fire burning at night.
I try to relate this wonder-filled scene in my situation now and I cannot deny that God’s Presence indeed is evident. I can see His hand in almost everywhere at work. But there are times when I just couldn’t see or appreciate His Presence.
It dawned on me that since God never lies and that when He said He will be with me at all times, it is certainly true, then there must be other grave reasons why I couldn’t see, feel or appreciate His Presence. In the stillness of my heart, He pointed out to me these walls that hinder me in seeing His Presence:
Unforgiving heart. God made me realize that most of my hurts and heartaches were as a result of wrong decisions and my attempts to go on before God tells me to go. People have definitely hurt me. But I also hurt them. Most of all, I have taken all the blame on my self. I am unhappy because I sought out happiness. I was sad because I isolated myself. I was unforgiving because I can’t even forgive myself.
Tangling sin. God reminded me that He is a holy God and He cannot share the throne in my heart with filthy sin. It is like water and oil. I cannot mix them. One will always disperse the other. And the greater chances are that I will let the thing that I value most control me. Sin makes me blind to see God’s goodness. Sin makes me deaf to hear God’s instructions. Sin makes me numb to God’s prodding in my heart. Sin separates me from God’s Presence.
Lack of intimacy with God. God has reminded me of His very reassuring promise in many parts of the Scriptures when He said that when I seek Him with all of my heart, He will be found. I admit that because I tend to shift my focus on my past mistakes and past pains, I lack the drive to pursue a deeper and genuine intimacy with God through prayer, fasting, fellowship and meditating His word. I failed to seek Him wholeheartedly. I have made my unforgiving heart and sin my gods.
17. And whenever the cloud was taken up from over the House, then the children of Israel went journeying on; and in the place where the cloud came to rest, there the children of Israel put up their tents. 18. At the order of the Lord the children of Israel went forward, and at the order of the Lord they put up their tents: as long as the cloud was resting on the House, they did not go away from that place. 19. When the cloud was resting on the House for a long time the children of Israel, waiting for the order of the Lord, did not go on. 20. Sometimes the cloud was resting on the House for two or three days; then, by the order of the Lord, they kept their tents in that place, and when the Lord gave the order they went on. 21. And sometimes the cloud was there only from evening to morning; and when the cloud was taken up in the morning they went on their journey again: or if it was resting there by day and by night, whenever the cloud was taken up they went forward.
The Presence of God requires my obedience.
I found the Israelites funny when they ought to follow wherever the cloud or pillar fire go. Just imagine them sleeping peacefully at night when the watchmen of the tabernacle called out to the people, “Set out!” because the pillar of fire moved.
Fitting myself into the sandals of the Israelites, with all my stubbornness, I would have surely muttered grumbly, “Can we just set out in the morning? I am just having my sweet dreams!” Or imagine the Israelites staying on camp for almost a month and they kept waiting for the cloud to move. Being a stiff-necked woman, I might have ran onto Moses and demanded him, “Can we just move up north? I am just so tired of this dry and weary place!”
The Lord did not end His ways of bringing the people into the Promised Land by instructing them to just build the tabernacle. God intertwined the Israelites’ obedience into His Presence.
22. Or if the cloud came to rest on the House for two days or a month or a year without moving, the children of Israel went on waiting there and did not go on; but whenever it was taken up they went forward on their journey. 23. At the word of the Lord they put up their tents, and at the word of the Lord they went forward on their journey: they kept the orders of the Lord as he gave them by Moses.
Radical obedience is submitting and recognizing that the greatest blessing is being in God’s Presence.
If I have found it crazy for the Israelites to follow the cloud or fire wherever and whenever it goes, I found it more insane to patiently wait when it does not even seem to budge. Being a woman who is quite impatient, I find it irritating when things I wanted doesn’t happen the way I want it during the time I want it. I realized that what I lack is the radical obedience of the Israelites. I have failed to see that God is more concerned with developing my character than bringing me to my own Promised Land.
I have failed to recognize everyday that the greatest blessing is being in God’s Presence. I have fallen too in love and obsessed with the Promised Land that I fail to realize that it is just the icing on the cake. God Himself is the cake, the object of why I hope and have faith.
And so during this season of my stubbornness again, I recognize God’s hand once when He reminded me of these things. I pray that as I journey in my own wilderness, I will be able to say as Ruth declares, “Where you go, I go. Where you stay, I stay.”
May God grant the godly desires of your heart ❤