Unpack Your Boxes: A Lesson on transition

Good morning and HAPPY FRIDAY! I hope you are all staying warm in this cool, yet LOVELY November weather! Maybe it will actually stay cool for Thanksgiving this year. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that that is the case!

My sister and I have been reading through the Bible with Good Morning Girls. It’s a three year commitment, and when I found out we were going to be reading Numbers for the next two months, I about quit. I remember there being really neat nuggets in Numbers the last time I read it, but honestly, I had recently walked through some discouragement and thought I would benefit more from reading through Psalms. Or moping through Ecclesiastes. Because OBVIOUSLY I know better than God... Not. God always knows best :) And what I have learned is that when you are faithful to a commitment, GOD WILL BLESS IT.

Over the last several months, Trice and I have been sensing some change. We aren’t exactly sure what that change looks like, but I could already feel myself starting to disconnect from some things here. Could it be that we are going to move to another city? Could it be that we are going to have another child? Could it be that we are going to move to a different house? Could it be that we are going to take a new job? I have no idea. Really. But I became so focused on what is next that I started neglecting my now. I started getting so impatient that I told my sweet hubby that he better hear from the Lord about it… OR ELSE. *cue the scary music* I talked to my closest friends and expressed my misery. I started to get homesick for the things of old, since that’s what I tend to do when I feel insecure in a certain place. (Hmm… kind of sounds like the Israelites longing for Egypt… YIKES! More of that in a bit.)

And then, when I finally came to my senses, I decided to go to the Lord and ask Him about it. And He so faithfully dropped Numbers 9 right into my lap. There were 3 nuggets that He gave me out of the end of chapter 9, and that's what I want to share today!

Numbers 9:17-18 - ‘ “Whenever the cloud lifted from over the sacred tent, the people of Israel would break camp and follow it. And wherever the cloud settled, the people of Israel would set up camp. In this way, they traveled and camped at the Lord’s command wherever He told them to go.”

1. The Lord is the one Who decides WHEN it is time to leave and when it is time to stay.

The Israelites never knew if they were going to be in a place for a day or a month. But when it was time to move on, the Lord made it abundantly clear. We don’t have to worry that we are going to miss the Lord’s smoke signal. He will make it as clear as a pillar of fire. We need only to be faithful where He has called us and trust that WHEN it’s time to move on, He will make it clear. It is a waste of time and energy to wonder about our next season. Let's let God be in charge of that, and choose to be faithful in the now!

2. The Lord is the one Who knows WHAT the next step is.

When the Israelites were in their camp, they never knew if they were going to go East or West. They only knew what was right in front of them. And then when it was time to move, “the cloud would lift” and they would clearly see their next step. This is the same for us. Have you heard of the expression “the fog lifted?” When God wants us to take a step, He will make it clear what that step is. All the confusion surrounding transition will start to dissipate as He makes it clear what our next step is. He will lift the fog one step at a time.

If you are in a season of transition, don’t be discouraged if you aren’t 100% clear on what that transition looks like. The Lord will make it clear… Just don’t expect Him to show you the next 10 steps, because that is not the way He does things!

The next point is the thing I really want to hone in on today.

Numbers 9:21 – “Sometimes the cloud stayed only overnight and lifted the next morning. But day or night, when the cloud lifted, the people broke camp and moved on. 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.”

3. We have to fully unpack in EACH PLACE THE LORD CALLS US.

The beginning of Numbers is a bit gruesome. The part that was the most overwhelming to me was reading about what all went into tearing down and setting up the Tabernacle. Everything was so tedious!! To make myself feel better, I decided that they probably wouldn’t have had to do all of that if they were only staying in a place for a night or two. Could you imagine tearing everything down and then setting everything back up just for a night? Couldn’t they just get by without fully unpacking?

But the problem with my theory is that the Israelites did not know beforehand if they were going to stay in a place for just a day or two. They just knew that as long as the cloud was over the Tabernacle, they were supposed to stay. And because it says “they did whatever the Lord told them,” and from reading further in Numbers 10, we can conjecture that they actually did fully 100% unpack and settle in each place that the Lord stopped them.

We don’t know how long our particular seasons are going to last. Our season could be 1 day, 1 year or 1 decade. But what we do know with 100% confidence is that God wants us to fully unpack right where we are. He doesn’t want us to live half-settled with some boxes still taped shut.

One of the things that Trice and I have struggled with is starting a small group in our home. We feel like the Lord is probably going to have us move into a new house in the coming months, so we have been procrastinating from getting anything started at our current house. But what if the group the Lord wants us to start is supposed to just be a short term group? Or what if the Lord actually ends up calling us to stay in our house for like 10 years? We never know. Transition can be overnight or it can be dragged out. So often, we focus on what is ahead and we neglect to serve the Lord right where we are. We don't want to miss out on the blessing that the Lord has for us RIGHT NOW.

Numbers 9:19 “If the cloud remained over the Tabernacle for a long time, the Israelites stayed and performed their duty to the Lord.”

Trice and I want to perform our duty to the Lord. We want to be obedient to everything He has asked of us, whether it’s supposed to be for a day, a year or a decade. Each season of life has new things for us to learn and new areas for us to grow in. I don't want to neglect what the Lord wants us to do any longer. I want to live each season to the fullest. 

How about you? Are you sensing a season of transition? Are you neglecting certain duties that the Lord is asking you to do? What duties does the Lord want you to perform right now? Is there a relationship that the Lord wants to deepen that you are holding back from because you sense a shift? Is there a coworker at your current office that needs to be befriended that you have been neglecting because you hope the Lord moves you to a new job soon? Don't neglect your current season. Don't start packing up when the Lord isn't quite ready for you to do so. Be all in right where you are!

A final note of caution. This goes back to the Egypt comment I made earlier. And this is where the Lord really smoked me! We have to make sure that our sense of transition is not actually a way of trying to run away from discontentment in our current season. Unfortunately, this has been a pattern in my life, and I have experienced devastation because of it.

In Numbers 14:3-4 we see how the Israelites decide to choose a new leader and head back to Egypt. They were discontent with the prospect of facing giants, so they decided in their minds that they should just transition to a new place instead of walking forward in the season that God was calling them to. The results of this were TRAGIC. They MISSED OUT ON THE PROMISED LAND. It says that the Lord ABANDONED THEM.

I don’t want to miss out on the promises of God any longer because I am discontent with my current season. I want to be sure that when it is time to transition to a new season, that THE LORD will move the cloud, instead of me running away from the cloud.

If you are discontent in your current season, please don’t transition without the Lord’s leading. You will miss out on the good things the Lord has in store for you.

And if the Holy Spirit is prompting you to transition soon, don’t pack up until the Lord tells you to do so. He wants us to unpack fully right where we are and perform our duties to Him for however long He has called us to stay!

Lord, thank you that you lead us so faithfully. Thank you that you don’t leave us in a state of confusion, but you clearly show us where to go, one step at a time. Help us to unpack fully right where we are and to experience all that you want us to experience in each season. Help us not to long for the things of Egypt when we are discontent, but to walk forward into the Promised Land. Bless each person that reads this today. In Jesus’ name. Amen.