This week I’ve gotten back on a workout schedule. I like my workouts and I like my schedules, neither of which life has seemed to cooperate with much over the past couple of months. The cooler temperatures have finally reached the south which means I don’t have to rise before the sun to be able to endure time outdoors, so even midday workouts can be enjoyable. So I’ve begun walking everyday. Not running. Just walking. Sigh.
I pushed myself in my running this summer and achieved some exciting new goals along with some not-so-exciting new pains and stresses. Forced to stop for recuperation, I became discouraged. Running clears my head. Running works off my stress. Running burns calories!!! My running plan did not include a setback.
My run time has always been a time I pray and talk to God about just about everything. He does most of the talking when I am winded, but we converse nonetheless. Yesterday as I was walking, I was mentally mapping out how many days I would walk before I began to run again, and He very simply said “It’s not time to run.” What??? Not run??? Walking is too slow. Walking is only the warm-up. Walking doesn’t burn as many calories. Walking won’t achieve my goal. (Refer to previous post “When obeying God doesn’t make sense”….)
So as I’m walking, God reminded me of the Israelites on their way through the wilderness. God had given them a promise of a land that would be all that they needed, abundant in provision and a place of rest. He had sent Moses as His man to lead them, but provided visible manifestations of His presence and guidance for them through a cloud that would lead them during the day and a pillar of fire that would remain with them at night. The plan seemed simple enough: Follow the cloud.
There is much to be learned from this people’s experiences in the wilderness, but for now I am pondering and learning from only one:
At the Lord’s command the Israelites journeyed, and at His command they encamped. As long as the cloud rested upon the tabernacle they remained encamped. Even when the cloud tarried upon the tabernacle many days, the Israelites kept the Lord’s charge and did not set out. And sometimes the cloud was only a few days upon the tabernacle, but according to the command of the Lord they remained encamped, and at His command they journeyed. And sometimes the cloud remained from evening only until morning, but when the cloud was taken up, they journeyed; whether it was taken up by day or by night, they journeyed. Whether it was two days or a month or a longer time that the cloud tarried upon the tabernacle, dwelling on it, the Israelites remained encamped; but when it was taken up, they journeyed…they kept the charge of the Lord… Numbers 9:18-23
Now, amongst the many that were traveling that way, I am quite sure there were more than a few that were of the same inclination as myself. They wanted to run. They wanted to hurry this process up and get to where they were going. They were happiest when the cloud kept moving for days on end. Yes, they had to push themselves and they got tired just like everyone else, but moving forward satisfied their need to achieve. Moving forward encouraged them that they were almost there, almost to the fulfillment of the promise.
I’m also quite sure that when the cloud tarried for days on end, many went to Moses or the leaders of their section of the camp and asked “What’s the holdup? Why aren’t we moving? Wouldn’t we get there faster if we just kept going??” Look a few verses on from the above passage and you find: And the people grumbled and deplored their hardships…..(11:1)
The Israelites had a much, much harder existence than you or I. Moving with the cloud wasn’t an easy task – they had to break camp (tents, not Winnebagos), pack it all up on animals, walk however far they had to go, and set it all up again when the cloud stopped. This was hard work. For some, the hardest part of the journey was in the movement. But for others, it was in the camping. And waiting. I’m afraid that if I had been there, you would have found me in the camp of the grumblers…
God has always used my run time to talk to me about the much bigger or deeper issues in my life and heart. I have visions of one day (finally) running a marathon, and I still believe that is ahead for me. But my frustration in this little matter of running was really just an outlet for a different journey I am on. God has given me a vision and a promise, yet I feel stalled, making little progress and I am antsy to move forward. He didn’t cause my injuries – I did that to myself by not listening to Him when He said slow down! He showed me that what I view as a setback is Him keeping me where He wants me right now, and my efforts to make things happen my way will only hurt my progress.
So I am camped, determined to move only when God moves. But resignation to being camped isn’t enough. I can’t be sitting in my camp and grumbling, either. I WILL learn from the Israelites. Their grumbling had some pretty destructive effects. Their lack of faith in the way God was taking them and His ability to fully accomplish all that He had promised cost them dearly. That will not be my story.
Now I think I will go enjoy my walk.