Today’s Reading: Exodus 39:32-40:38, Numbers 9:15-23
Living as an expat in a foreign country with other expats, change and movement is inevitable. It is one of the joys and sadness’s of this lifestyle. The people you meet and know the first year of your time in a new town are not the same people you will know when you or they leave.
Since we have been here we have known expat families that were here only for a year. One family we became friends with was here for only six weeks. In our church we had a couple come and go in less than 15 months. Another family from Japan became amazing good friends in just 18 months and then went home again. I cried the day we said goodbye to them in church.
Life as an expat is exciting and adventurous. It is also nerve wracking. You can feel like you life is in a bit of upheaval. Sure you have a contract for a length of employment, but things can change. Not only do you have the potential to be sent home at any time, but you also may have the uncertainty of your next assignment. I have known expats that have struggled with the idea of moving home, or to another city in their home country, or to another two or three different countries or to just staying put in their same assignment. The uncertainty can be quite exhausting. Some friends of ours and my wife and I are a bit in that phase of not knowing exactly what the next step is.
Too bad we did have a cloud of smoke and a pillar of fire to guide us.
Exodus 40:36 – 38 NLT
36 Now whenever the cloud lifted from the Tabernacle, the people of Israel would set out on their journey, following it. 37 But if the cloud did not rise, they remained where they were until it lifted. 38 The cloud of the Lord hovered over the Tabernacle during the day, and at night fire glowed inside the cloud so the whole family of Israel could see it. This continued throughout all their journeys.
At this point in our reading the Israelites are beginning to wander in the desert. They know their ultimate destination, Canaan. But they do not know how they are going to get there (besides by walking). They are being directed by God. If the cloud of smoke or the pillar of fire moves, they move, if it stays still, they camp. I like how it is described in our Numbers passage…
Numbers 9:22 – 23 NLT
22 Whether the cloud stayed above the Tabernacle for two days, a month, or a year, the people of Israel stayed in camp and did not move on. But as soon as it lifted, they broke camp and moved on. 23 So they camped or traveled at the Lord’s command, and they did whatever the Lord told them through Moses.
Recently I was talking to my expat friend about where to go and what to do. He commented that we need to go where the Lord leads us. He has a plan. If his plan is to stay here, then we stay here. If his plan is to pack up and move home, we move home. If his plan is to move us to France or England or Portland or New York or Japan or China or Antarctica – we should do it. We should follow where the glory of the Lord is leading us.
Our job is to trust and obey for there is no other way.
Psalm 32:8 NLT
The LORD says, "I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.
Please pray for my family and the families of others who are in our position. Pray that the Lord will make his plans as obvious to us as a cloud of smoke or a pillar of fire. Pray that we have the courage to follow obediently and expectantly; expecting His help and assistance.