So I’m reading through Numbers. Noooooooot the most riveting book in the Bible, I must confess. As you can imagine, there are too many nights when I want to skim-over all the offerings, the counting, the genealogies, the offerings, the whining…and more offerings.
Nevertheless, as David Platt says in Radical (read it),
“When you or I open the Bible, we are beholding the very words of God…That is why I believe it is more important for you and me to read Leviticus [or in this case, Numbers] than it is for us to read the best Christian book ever published, because Leviticus [or Numbers] has a quality and produces an effect that no book in the Christian marketplace can compete with.”
God is able to speak to us through even the most, dare I say it, boring books of the Bible. And He has. When I got to chapter nine, I recognized something I needed to learn from the Israelites (which is surprising since they’re usually terribly annoying). In verse 18, it says, “They traveled and camped at the Lord’s command wherever He told them to go.” It goes on to say they would stay in one place for a year and at other times just overnight, depending on the Lord’s direction.
That’s crazy devotion. I think most of us would say we’re willing to go wherever God calls us, assuming He’ll call us to Romania for the rest of our lives. Or New Jersey for a couple years. Or Bedford for a while. (Literally picking random places here…)
But how many of us would be willing to be nomads for Christ? A nomad, by definition, is someone who has “no permanent abode.”
Now before you go all “I’d love to be a backpacker for the rest of my life!!!” on me, think about this: living not in a constant state of movement, but rather in a constant state of unknowing. Of trying to balance comfort and peace with movability and flexibility. The Israelites sometimes stayed in one place for up to a year. By that time, they would have had sturdy houses, an attachment to the land, favorite reading nooks (or caves), a routine, and probably some sort of affection for the place where they lived. Then one day, God would snatch it all out from under them. They never knew when that day would come, but they knew with certainty it would come eventually.
A constant state of unknowing.
God really revealed to the Israelites the stamina of their faith by forcing them to lean on Him entirely. He showed them, and now us through their story, that “following Him” isn’t just good Christian lingo for “loving God.” It means actually walking when He walks and sitting still when He’s still, whether it be across the state, country, or world. He guided the Israelites through a cloud, as He guides us through the Holy Spirit today—but how much do we listen?
I know I’m not there yet. I love my comfy spaces at home, my familiar driving routes, my favorite restaurants. And I love being near my family and friends. But the realization that I’m called to a more mobile faith is a good place to start.
An open heart is what He longs for. Can we give that to Him and see where He takes us from there?