“Whether the cloud stayed above the tabernacle for 2 days, a month, or a year, the people of Israel stayed in camp and did not move on…so they traveled at the Lord’s command.” Numbers 9:22
Was this the first “shelter-in-place”? Ha! I read this verse on March 4, before COVID-19 was even real to me. Today our governor issued a shelter-in-place requirement for the state of Georgia which means no outings unless they are considered “essential.” Oh, and he cancelled school for the year.
Around 4:30 today, I took this information in, told the kids, and prepared dinner. My husband wanted to go for a walk after our meal but I just wasn’t up for it. I could feel a difference in my body: tired, achy, cold, exhausted. I told Chris no to the walk and headed upstairs. I wanted a hot shower, chocolate cake and my bed. This virus has taken its toll on so many. I am really not a casualty. I am just uncomfortable, bored and eating a lot more carbs. But I think tonight I could finally feel the physical impact the stress has taken on me.
As I was in my shower tonight, I remembered the verse about the Israelites, “Whether the cloud stayed above the tabernacle for 2 days, a month, or a year, the people of Israel stayed in camp and did not move on…so they traveled at the Lord’s command.”
We are here now, right with the Israelites. We must stay in camp. We cannot move outside the Lord’s command. We cannot move until He chooses to change things.
How does this make you feel, to be so powerless, so vulnerable, so dependent on someone else? The Israelites hated it and complained. They hated the manna and the quail they were miraculously given and the water that came at their request from the rock. Numbers 21 says “the people grew impatient with the long journey” crying out “we are tired of this manna.”
I am impatient and tired of manna…I want chocolate cake… And I want to eat it at the cute bakery across the street…with my girlfriend.
But then Moses changes the tone and says to God in Exodus 33:15 “If you don’t personally go with us, don’t make us leave this place.”
“Don’t make us leave this place.” What? How could Moses pray this? Scripture tells us the journey out of Egypt to the promised land from Mount Sinai should have take about 11 days but it took 40 years! How could Moses say that he wouldn’t move without God? Even if it meant staying put for a long, long time. The Israelites camped in Sinai for one year without moving!
I believe Moses could pray this because he had a Shelter in place… he knew the goodness of his Father, and he knew how not good things were without Him. He knew he could not lead the millions of complaining Israelites without the wisdom of the Creator.
He had seen the miracles and wanted to be closer to the extraordinary than settle for the ordinary.
We see in scripture that he spoke with God face to face as a friend. He knew God well enough to tell the Israelites: “Don’t be shocked or afraid…The Lord your God is going ahead of you. He will fight for you…and you saw how the Lord cared for you all along the way as you traveled through the wilderness, just as a father cares for his child…”Deut. 1:30-31
Moses knew the goodness of God in the midst of his shelter in place.
Despite staying put, he still experienced the delight of His heavenly father and couldn’t bear the thought of moving anywhere without Him.
I am hoping this season of our lives is one of a kind. I am guessing we will never be in a place of this much restriction as a country or as families. So, this is a very unique situation and we serve a very unique God who cares for us “just as a father cares for a child.” He is a good, good Father and an excellent teacher.
I believe there is a very unique lesson for all of us in this time and I don’t want to miss it.
I want the heart of Moses, to know God as a friend and to be able to pray “If you don’t personally go with me, I don’t want to leave this place.”
What does he have for you in this place? This shelter in place? What does he want to teach you where you are, camped out, impatient with the long journey and tired of the manna?
You know, manna was the miracle bread, only enough given for each day, no extra could be consumed or it would spoil. We are here too, shelter in place, with only manna, only promised today.
There is a lesson here in your camp. There is a miracle in the manna for you too.
He doesn’t want you to leave this place without Him either…