Following the Cloud

Well… now I’ve done it.

In a step of faith, I set a date to leave my day job to embark for a journey I can’t fully map out.

The decision wasn’t an easy one. For months I struggled with reconciling what I thought of as “common sense” with the faith journey the Lord was calling me to. The war between what I understood as success and a calling and purpose made clear many years earlier caused me to doubt. So instead of trusting God fully, I launched fully on into an epic struggle.

Look, can we just agree that sometimes our greatest enemy is our own thoughts? I spent months battling what-if’s and how-cans and, my friends it was as fierce a battle as I’ve fought since my Christian journey began.

But as battles sometimes go, at some point I realized the only choice was surrender. I knew that true peace only comes from obedience. I knew what I needed to do, so, I made the decision to leave a corporate job where I’d worked for 22 years to embark on an unknown journey.

And, wouldn’t you know it… The day I gave in and made began forming my exit strategy, a peace I could not explain swept over me. I shouldn’t have been surprised, though because it’s promised. Philippians 4:7 says that peace does not come through understanding – it’s a supernatural experience that is outside what we know.

Nearly four months have passed since I determined to follow God’s call. I know a bit more, but still, don’t have the neatly mapped out path I’m supposed to take. As much as I want full disclosure with every step provided – I know it’s likely not going to happen. It’s clear now this journey is to be a faith walk. This is going to require me to move without a clear vision of how this is going to play out.

The thing is, though… it’s not like God’s never asked anyone else to walk in faith. There are many Bible stories where God calls someone without giving them a detailed plan of what’s to come.

Long before Abraham became Abram God called him on an incredible journey of faith. In Genesis 12 he’s told to go, and all he knows is that God will show him the place when he gets there. Am I the only one who reads that story and thinks, “who DOES that?”

What’s truly fascinating about the story is not the calling but the obedience Abram shows. He goes seemingly without question. And, did I mention he was in his seventies when he does this?

It’s probably safe to assume he’s probably become comfortable in his life. But he hears God call and he picks up his life and family and goes to the unknown place. There are challenges and tests along the way for sure. But, it’s an incredible story, and it lands him the faith hall of fame.

So, I started to wonder – what causes an individual to lay down reason and go?

Of course, I landed squarely on faith as a determinant. Faith in the context of Christianity is complete trust or confidence without proof. Simply put, it’s believing what we cannot see. (Hebrews 11:1)

In fact, there are many other verses that speak of faith as a means to sustain and direct us. (Isaiah 43:10, 1 Timothy 4:10, Mark 1:15) No doubt, faith is the essence of Christianity. Without it unlikely we would trust that God’s son died to pay the penalty of everyone’s sin.

Faith, of course… but I still struggled. I wanted to know how and when. I wanted a guide.

As I prayed and studied God’s word, I began to understand. God was not sending me into the wilderness alone. No, friends, not at all. He is a relational God. He is vested in us and would never allow us to go alone. Isaiah 30: 21 says he’ll tell us the way and chapter 58:11 promises he’ll guide us. In addition, the book of John, says the Holy Spirit will give us guidance. (John 14:26, John 16:13)

Guidance is part of the journey.

Then one day in my quiet time, I read Exodus 13 and it spoke to my heart. This is the story of Israel’s journey from Egypt to the land God had promised them. They were in the wilderness without a map. It was a challenging and difficult journey, and their faith failed many times. It would be easy to judge the many times they doubted where God was taking them, but I could relate to their questions and fears.

The words in Exodus 13:21 particularly spoke to my heart because in that verse God promised to send a cloud for them to follow. It wasn’t any old cloud. It was his very presence sent to guide them. By following the cloud, they would know when to stay and when to go.

That miraculous cloud hovering over them in the desert was a sign of God’s love for them. Through it he was not only with them, he provided direction in a tangible way. Later, in Exodus 33:9 it says that when went Moses went into his tent, the pillar of cloud would come down and hover at the entrance while the Lord spoke with Moses.”  And God, in the cloud, told Moses, “I will personally go with you, Moses, and I will give you rest – everything will be fine for you.”

What a promise!

That’s when I knew I could also count on him to guide me. The journey he’s called me on is unknown to me, but not to him.

As the promises started to unfold my anxiety about the journey has faded. As a human being, I will always want to know the next steps before they come. But as a child of God, I am comforted and encouraged to know that I will walk this journey following the cloud.

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