Cloud and Fire


We walk by faith, not by sight. But I admit, there are many times when I wish I walked by sight. I wish I could see God – see his face, touch the scars in Jesus’ hands, hear his literal voice in my ear. Surely, I think, that would make my Christian walk easier. I wouldn’t fall so often. Wouldn’t doubt so much. Wouldn’t sin so frequently.


And then I noticed something very interesting: do you remember when Israel was wandering in the desert? Do you remember their constant grumbling, griping, complaining, and rebelling? As much as I hate to admit it, I do recognize myself in those four words.


But then notice something else, mentioned in Numbers 9:16: “So it was continuously; the cloud would cover [the tabernacle] by day, and the appearance of fire by night.”


Did you catch it? The literal, visible, tangible presence of God was with the Israelites through all their wilderness wanderings. The cloud covered the tabernacle by day in the sight of all, and a pillar of fire lit it at night. They could see him. Their nomadic journey was directed entirely by the movement of the cloud and fire.


Now go back to what characterized their journey: Grumbling. Griping. Complaining. Rebelling.

It gave me pause for thought. Perhaps walking by sight isn’t any easier than walking by faith. Perhaps I would respond just the same way, even if I could see Jesus in the room with me.

Here’s the bottom line: seeing God won’t make us holy if we don’t want to be holy. Change has to come from within … from the desire to love the Lord our God with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, and all our strength.


So if you find yourself grumbling, griping, complaining, and rebelling, don’t blame God and rail that “If only I could see you, I wouldn’t be like this!” Put the responsibility where it belongs. This is all about you. It’s all about me. And we have to ask ourselves seriously:


“What am I going to do about it?”

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