October 2015 newsletter
Led by God
So they took their journey from Succoth and camped in Etham at the edge of the wilderness. 21 And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night. 22 He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day or the pillar of fire by night from before the people. (Exodus 12:20-22)
When the Israelites left Egypt, where they had been in bondage for almost 400 years, God led them on their way. In Moses, He had given them a leader to follow, but He wanted all of them to know that He Himself was showing the way. That is why He gave them a visible sign of His presence to follow: a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.
As children of God today, we too have God’s presence in our lives. We may not follow a visible cloud that goes before us, but we have God’s Spirit to guide us. Just like God had a route planned for the Israelites to travel, He has a plan and purpose for us. He does not leave us to wander about blindly, hoping that somehow we will get where we should be. God directs our every step by His Spirit – but will we follow?
The Israelites had their doubts about God’s leading, when they reached the shore of the Red Sea. Having trusted in God’s leading, they suddenly found themselves closed in with the Egyptians hard on their heels. What would have gone on in their minds? Why had God brought them to this place? Was His plan really to destroy them?
We too may be led by the Holy Spirit to a place in our lives where there seems to be no going further. We may begin to question: was it really God who led me here? Did I get it wrong? Or, even worse: does God not care about me? Has he led me to this place in my life to abandon me?
The Israelites asked these questions. They complained to Moses, saying it would have been better for them to stay in bondage rather than die in the wilderness (Exodus 14:11). Yet God knew what He was doing. Not long after, they watched from a place of safety, as God caused the water of the Red Sea to come crashing down on their pursuers, killing every one of them. God had led them to this place, not to destroy them, but their enemies. He always fights for His own, even if it may not seem so at the moment.
The apostle Paul could have felt despondent, when he and Silas were beaten and locked up in a Philippian prison with their feet in the stocks (Acts 16:24). The Holy Spirit had led them to Philippi after preventing them from preaching elsewhere (v.6-10). Would it not have better to remain in Asia? Could they not have avoided all this hardship? Such thoughts never crossed the minds of these men of faith. They knew that God had brought them there and that He would see them through. They knew that He had a purpose for them in Philippi. They planted a fellowship that became the bedrock of God’s church in Europe and supported their missionary endeavours in the whole region.
Do you sometimes wonder where God has brought you? Do you question His love and His purpose for your life when things seem difficult? Well, think again. As long as we follow God’s leading, He will protect us and fight our battles. As long as we remain in His will, we will overcome by His power. God doesn’t leave us to wander about blindly. He wants to direct our steps in every area of our lives. We may not always understand what He is doing, but if we trust Him we will experience His loving presence and enter into His purpose, no matter what the circumstances seem to suggest. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God. (Romans 8:14)