What are you waiting for? Is it a child, a spouse, a job, a promotion, a healing, a surgery, or a resolution to some problem? What does it mean to redeem the time in your waiting? Are you making the most of every opportunity you have during the waiting?
15 On the day the tabernacle, the tent of the covenant law, was set up, the cloud covered it. From evening till morning the cloud above the tabernacle looked like fire. 16 That is how it continued to be; the cloud covered it, and at night it looked like fire. 17 Whenever the cloud lifted from above the tent, the Israelites set out; wherever the cloud settled, the Israelites encamped. 18 At the Lord’s command the Israelites set out, and at his command they encamped. As long as the cloud stayed over the tabernacle, they remained in camp.
19 When the cloud remained over the tabernacle a long time, the Israelites obeyed the Lord’s order and did not set out. 20 Sometimes the cloud was over the tabernacle only a few days; at the Lord’s command they would encamp, and then at his command they would set out. 21 Sometimes the cloud stayed only from evening till morning, and when it lifted in the morning, they set out. Whether by day or by night, whenever the cloud lifted, they set out. 22 Whether the cloud stayed over the tabernacle for two days or a month or a year, the Israelites would remain in camp and not set out; but when it lifted, they would set out. 23 At the Lord’s command they encamped, and at the Lord’s command they set out. They obeyed the Lord’s order, in accordance with his command through Moses.
Whether it was days, weeks, months, or a year, as long as the cloud remained over the Tabernacle, Israel stayed where they were. When the cloud lifted, they would pack up camp and move on. If this was happening today, how long do you think it would take for people to start the Tabernacle Cloud Draw or to take bets on the over / under of the number of days they would camp? Vegas would be all over it.
You know what else? People would go squirrelly waiting. I wonder what camp looked like. I’m assuming the first few days after camp was set up would be restful. Yet at some point the days would become restless. When you know you are going to travel and you are preparing, it can be quite restless. Lucy says I’m grumpy the day before I travel because I don’t want to be away from home. It’s true.
Now what would that look like if I didn’t know when I would have to pack or leave? I’d be constantly going out to see if the cloud was lifting. Like waiting for a taxi to show up or waiting for the rain to stop for the ball game to resume or waiting for the Dr. who is running late with appointments, we are not good at waiting. We are kettle-watchers and watch-tappers.
I think Israel having to wait and obey the cloud was a terrific lesson in patience and faith.
What are you waiting for? Is it a child, a spouse, a job, a promotion, a healing, a surgery, or a resolution to some problem? What are you waiting for? What if the waiting is some or all of the point? What if the lesson of the waiting is faith in the waiting?
In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he advises them to redeem the time they have: “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is,” (Ephesians 5:15-17 NKJV). I love that concept of redeeming the time.
What does it mean to redeem the time in your waiting? Are you making the most of every opportunity you have during the waiting? That’s redeeming the time.
When I get up in the morning, before I get my coffee, I let Sarge the dog out into the front yard. When he comes back in, his paws are wet/dirty from the dew or rain or from walking through the flower bed, and I know where he is going – back up the cream-coloured-carpeted-stairs to his dog bed. And so, as he steps into the house, I say, ‘Wait.’ And Sarge stops inside the front door and waits until I wipe his paws. As soon as I am done, I say, ‘Go.’ Then he goes. He’s pretty good with those commands. Wait. Go.
Many of us wait by stopping. That’s what Sarge the dog does. When I say, ‘Wait,’ he stands still. Wait doesn’t mean stop. God’s wait didn’t mean that Israel was on a perpetual Sabbath until the cloud lifted. They lived life and redeemed the time, making the most of every opportunity. They trusted that God was in control of the time of their wait and their circumstances.
How could you redeem the time in your wait? What does making the most of life and opportunity look like for you today? Don’t be like Sarge the dog. Redeem your wait.