Before I write about my reading in Numbers, let me begin by saying I am really enjoying getting together Tuesday morning with the three women who are reading through the Bible with me this year. I enjoy the questions, the discussion, and the reflection. If all Christians approached the Bible with their level of excitement, seriousness, and curiosity, our churches would be full of very different people, indeed. For those three, (and those I know who are reading but haven't been able to join us on Tuesdays) thank you for taking this journey through the Bible with me.
That having been said, as I mentioned a few weeks ago, I recently announced to my congregation that I would be stepping down as their minister some time this year. You can read a copy of what I said to the congregation on my wife's blog, here. What makes this situation...interesting...for lack of a better word, is that as of now, Kalyn and I don't have another ministry position to go to. The leadership here has been very understanding about that, and is in no hurry to rush me out the door, which I am grateful for. That means, for the time being, Kalyn and I are sort of in a limbo, in an interim. We must hurry to try to get things ready for a move, but then wait for it to happen.
The beginning of Numbers takes place in that "hurry up to wait" moment for Israel. They've been freed from Egyptian oppression and they've been given instruction for how to be the people God wants them to be. They've been camping at Sinai for at least a year, learning and preparing for what is to come next: God leading them to the Promised Land. I wonder what that was like for some of them.
I'm curious because I hate waiting (and I'm not just talking about the idea of instant gratification, although I'm not real good with delayed gratification either). When a decision needs to be made I can be very patient. In fact, I get very frustrated if I feel things are being rushed. That having been said, once a decision is made I want to get to it. If I know where I'm going I just want to get there. When I have to wait at that point I go batty, but there is a lesson for me in the story of Israel. Sometimes the hurrying up to wait is necessary if we are going to be formed into the type of people that can function in the new places God is taking us.
This goes back to a conversation I find myself having often as I read through the first few books of the Bible, a conversation about the idea of transformation. God is transforming us (or if you prefer language going back to Genesis 1-3, working to restore us), and transformation (restoration) only happens over time, or maybe more accurate, only happens over uncomfortable time.
God would bring his people to the land he promised them, but first they had to wait. They hurried out of Egypt only to sit at a mountain, but if they would thrive in Canaan, they had to have that formative time at Sinai. That seems to be how life goes. We hurry up to wait, but if we don't wait we're never truly ready for the next place God is taking us. I hate that, but I'll do my best to try to learn from it.
Stopping point: Numbers 10