The Lord went ahead of them. He guided them during the day with a pillar of cloud, and he provided light at night with a pillar of fire. This allowed them to travel by day or by night. And the Lord did not remove the pillar of cloud or pillar of fire from its place in front of the people. Exodus 13:21-22
Today as I woke beneath my window I looked out and watched the moon glowing in the night-morning sky. The clouds lazily drifting by. As it glowed I thought of the Israelites I’ve been reading about in Exodus. Led by God with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. I thought of them looking up at the fire. Did it glow as the moon? Did it flicker as if an actual fire in the sky?
I thought of how blessed they were to have such a reminder. To have such confidence in the presence of God. They could see him. If I could see him I would do better. Be better. They couldn’t forget that God was there, but it’s easier for us to forget. Not to forget God exists, but to forget he is there.
But then I think of them and their mistakes and rebellion and selfishness—so like us—and I know that they saw but they still struggled. They saw the fire like I see the moon, but still they struggled. The presence of God was there and they could see him—almost touch him—and yet they forgot him sometimes.
I resolve that I would do better, be better, if only I had what they had. But then I think when was the last time I just laid and looked at the moon? Very long. Too long. It could be said I had forgotten it was there. Not that it existed, but forgot to look. Forgot to see.
Yes, I am no different then they. That rabble of God’s people who loved and hated and were so passionate until they didn’t care. That people who would die for God, so long as it didn’t inconvenience them too greatly. They are me. I am them. We are God’s rabble.
Ironically, now as I sit and write this I can see the sun rising, the greater light. The one the other only reflected. This is the way with the Israelites and us too. They had the pillar of fire, but of course they could not be relied upon to look and listen and follow well. They are just a rabble of people after all. Thankfully the pillar of fire was only a reflection of the greater that was to come. The Light—not just for the Israelites in the wilderness. The Light for all the world.
I forget too easily that he is there. Too many are the days we barely speak, I barely look, I follow haphazardly. I do not forget he exists, but I forget to enjoy that he is there. Right there.
Today the moon reminds me. He is there. He is here. Wherever “there” may be and wherever the day may take me. He is there. He is here and nothing will remove him from his place.