Have you been called away on an unexpected trip with little time to prepare? What do you find yourself doing (apart from wishing you’d printed that generic packing list)? You rush from closet to suitcase to dresser to bathroom and back to your suitcase to make sure you have all the essentials. What’s the weather like at your destination? Are there enough clothes for the time you’ll be gone? Did you remember your toothbrush? Did you forget anything?
Imagine the Israelites, who have had more than 400 years toiling in slavery when it seemed God was far away. All of a sudden, the word comes: “We’re leaving!” It certainly was a surprise!
Their “hosts” for the previous 400 plus years, the Egyptians, were just as anxious to have their “guests” gone as the “guests” were to leave. In fact, the Egyptians willingly shared with the Israelites their silver and gold jewelry and clothing, a fulfillment of God’s promise from many years earlier (Gen. 15:14). (It would be like your big sister voluntarily allowing you to take her favorite sweater on your trip without any expectation that it would be returned. You take other items from her wardrobe, too!)
Envision the hubbub as more than 2 million men, women, and children (estimated by most commentators) scurried to leave. There wasn’t even time for their bread to rise, so they wrapped the dough and their bowls in their clothes and carried them on their shoulders. Were they excited or scared? Did they anticipate their arrival in the Promised Land with enthusiasm or did they consider what they had left behind?
The Israelites might have been surprised by the announcement of their travel plans for the promised land, but God was not. He had prepared Pharaoh’s heart, promised that they would come out of slavery with great possessions, and provided them with one of the greatest leaders in history, Moses. As they traveled, a cloud (or pillar of fire) guided them, and each morning they woke to find manna to nourish their bodies.
God is not surprised by our individual journeys either. “Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (Psalms 139:16 NIV).
Where he gave the Israelites a cloud or a pillar of fire to guide them, He has given us His Word.
Where he gave them a leader in the person of Moses, he has provided His Holy Spirit, who often speaks in a still, small voice to help us navigate life.
Have you ever been caught off guard about an upcoming trip?
How has God specifically guided your life journey?
Is there a verse or a promise that has helped guide your journey?