Numbers 33: 1-2
Here are the stages in the journey of the Israelites when they came out of Egypt by divisions under the leadership of Moses and Aaron. At the Lord’s command Moses recorded the stages in their journey by stages.
Read Numbers 33
What I love the most about today’s verses is not only did God command the Israelites to journey in stages, He also commanded Moses to record the journey in stages. God wanted Moses to keep an accurate account of how He moved the Jews from one place to another. Why is that important? I believe it is important because He wants to show us that His timing is perfect. I know that when a change of direction happens to us that sometimes we feel blindsided; but God is showing us through His Word that He does not sucker punch His children. He prepares them and He moves them in stages, slowly and only what they can handle for that day.
This is very important for us to remember because life seems to go by quickly, especially when we are preoccupied with a lot of distractions. Some of our distractions can be good and joyful, like the birth of a baby or a marriage. Other distractions can be devastating like the loss of a job or a serious illness. Even a marriage which fails and ends doesn’t do so overnight. Everything moved accordingly to God’s will in time. The path we see behind these distractions will show us how slowly God took us and even how well He cared for our needs.
Just knowing how carefully God takes care of us should give us a sense of peace. In fact we lose that feeling of peace when we take our eyes off of God and allow Satan to convince us that God just pulled the carpet out from underneath our feet. We have to learn how to be better fighters against a lie. We need to learn how to tell Satan to shut up and how to listen to God and allow Him to show us how He tenderly took care of our needs. He did and He always will, and He may not fill our needs as we thought but in retrospect He will fill them much greater.
Another lesson we should pull from this is to never try to rush God and rush to the end of a trail in our life. Jesus said today’s worries are enough and don’t borrow tomorrow’s for tomorrow worries will come.(Matthew 6:34) In this Jesus is teaching us once again that His time, the stages he brings us through, are the stages we should not try to get out of or rush through. Each stage serves a purpose and in those stages God is teaching us something about Him and something about us.
Where are you on your path? I am still walking a very troubled path but the good news is, the very good news is that God is here with me and He always will be. So it really doesn’t matter where I am on this walk, because I walk with God.
And Abram journeyed on by stages toward the Negab.
Abram has received the call from God to leave his country and his family and go where God is sending him. It is important for Abram to leave his family and that is because they are heathens and God is going to redeem Abram and then make him the father of all nations. God has big plans for Abram. God tells Abram that and it is up to Abram who has been brought up among heathens and he worshiped a false god himself, to now accept the voice he hears as that of the One true God who can indeed give to him what He says He can. That is why we read in Acts 7, Romans 4, Galatians 3, Hebrews 7, and James 2 about the faith of Abraham. Abram heard God and believed it to be God and responded to God in faith and he left his home and family and started off to a foreign land. Abram started on his journey and as we read in today’s verse he journeyed on by stages.
We just got done going through the book of Esther and learned how God prepared her for the role of the queen and to save her people. That is quite an impressive story. I want us to also understand that it is not unique. We can go through Scripture and see how God uses His people and pickup a common theme, God prepares them and they journey in stages. God does that because He knows us and He knows how much we can handle. I know this to be true.
When Gary first got sick and was in Marionjoy there was nothing I wanted more than to bring him home with me. I didn’t even care how many times I ran back and forth to bring him to outpatient as long as I had him home I was happy. Little by little and month by month the days got harder and in some ways Gary’s injury took a turn for the worse but in many other ways, I just accepted his limitations. I didn’t lose hope, I have not lost hope, I just came to the conclusion that Gary is better off in residential care where others can take care of him. They can keep him distracted and watch him 24/7 so that he will be safe. That is what he needs and that is what I could no longer provide.
Had Gary been placed right out of Marionjoy into residential care that would’ve been too much for me to bear. I wanted Gary home, I wanted to try and give him space to heal and see if his brain would be restored. I was not ready to place Gary in residential care, that was a big painful step for me. I go to visit Gary several times during the week and still cry on the way home. I am not saying that it isn’t hard because it is hard but it is not as devastating as it could of been had I placed Gary there in October 2011. God knew that and it is for that reason God moved the two of us in stages. He prepared me for this calling in my life. I journeyed in stages just as Abram did and also some of you.
We all know what it is like to suffer and hit a hard time in life. If we are honest and we look back we can see how God prepared us and how God moves us and we know that God did take care of us the entire way. It is hard to see that in the midst of a trial and that is why I want you to start learning how to journal your days. I don’t want you to just journal what you do or what you eat, journal how you feel and what you believe God is saying to you. When a calling from God comes, one that does not make sense, you can look back and see how God prepared you for this call. Does this make the pain of trauma go away? No and God knows it won’t but He does know that while we are crying and talking to Him we will begin to see and understand, that He never leaves us or forsakes us, He is with us and He does go where He sends us and He does send us but He sends us in stages.
On that day King Ahasuerus gave to Queen Esther the house of Haman, the enemy of the Jews; and Mordecai came before the king, for Esther had told what he was to her.
This is going to be our last day we are in the Book of Esther. Today we read how the evil plot of Haman is discovered and how the king deals with his treachery. The Jews are saved and they can thank Esther the young orphaned girl, cousin of Mordecai who was taken by force to the kings palace and after being crowned queen had to appear to him uninvited and put her life on the line for her people. This is one of those real life fairy tales. This is not always the way our trials end. Some of you know that some trails end very badly, with us burying our loved ones and saying goodbye to dear friends. This does not mean that God is not with us in our trials it just means He had other plans for our stories.
Are you still in the middle of your trial? I am and so there is an end coming I just don’t know where it is and how it will end. That is all a mystery to me, but I find comfort in knowing that God has it all planned and knows exactly what will happen next. There are some details He does leave for us since we have free will but for the most part He has it pretty much planned out.
Keep in mind that Esther could have rejected Mordecai’s plan and refused to go before the king and that Mordecai reminds Esther that if she fails to do what she is purposed for then someone else will do the job that was given to her. That is a good lesson for us to learn as we close this book. We get to read and enjoy how Esther worked with God in all of this. Keep in mind that this book starts with a different queen and she has to be put away before Queen Esther can come into the picture. From the first sentence to the last God worked in all of this story. God is not mentioned directly in the Book of Esther but God is directly involved with this Book.
Life can be good, but it has its struggles and sometimes we just hit trials that seem to last forever. God uses those trials to bring about His glory and I am sure if you were to ask Esther now she would say how thankful she is that God used her this way. I am positive that had you asked her that question when her parents died, or she was taken into the kings palace or when she had to fast and pray she would have felt differently. How do I know this? I am going through a trial and I wonder all the time when I will see God’s purpose. That is why I am recording the event. I may never see the outcome but my children will or perhaps my grandchildren and I want them to be able to go back and trace and see how God prepared all of us to do what God has chosen us to do. That is why He saved us and this is the only true meaning we will ever have in life, that is to do the will of God and bring Him glory.
Esther 6: 1,2
On that night the king could not sleep, and he gave orders to bring the book of records, the annals, and they were read to the king. It was found written how Mordecai had told about Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s eunuchs, who guarded the threshold and who had conspired to assassinate King Ahasuerus.
At the end of chapter 5 in the Book of Esther, Haman goes home elated that he got to have a banquet served to him by the queen and to share with the king. He is even chosen to do this auspicious honor one more time the following night. However, as he leaves the palace he passes by Mordecai and his hatred for the man rekindles within him and he builds a gallow to hang Mordecai. We then get to chapter 6 and discover that King Ahasuerus has insomnia, so he does what all of us do when we can’t sleep he calls for a boring book. As the book is read to him something very interesting pops out and grabs his attention and that is the story of how Mordecai uncovered the plot to kill him, tells Esther and the king is saved. There is no coincidence when it comes to God.
It is exactly for this reason that I am having us record the events of our lives. I promise you that the more you journal the more you will discover that God does prepare you for the trials in your life. Mordecai overhears a plot to kill the king and that is pretty serious so he tells his cousin Esther the new queen who tells her new husband the king. The king can’t sleep after his wife serves him and Haman a dinner and requests a second night to repeat the feast. What kept him up was most likely the thoughts racing through his mind. This king was very clever and he would have known that Esther was being strategic. All that thinking jumbled his brain and he couldn’t find rest. Do you see the hand of God in all this? Can you see how God had Mordecai over hear the plot? Honestly, any person could have overheard but only one person was needed to fulfill God’s plan. The king not being able to sleep is God working to pull all things together.
We don’t always catch these moments in our lives. Sometimes we remember them and can go back and see the hand of God. That usually happens in the joyful times of our lives. That seldom happens in the trials. That is because we are so focused on the pain of the trail that we turn inward and internalize our pain. We forget to push those feelings out and towards God so He can help us get through them. That is why it is imperative to stop and journal so that you can keep a record that serves to reveal and teach you where God is in all of that mess.
Back on July 7, 2011 when I woke up and found Gary dead my entire world flipped upside down and it really seemed like my life was being emptied out. The way I pictured it was the way a woman takes her purse and empties the contents. That is how I felt my life was changed, suddenly and messily. What I am doing is going through some journals from before hand when life was good, Gary and I were happy and planning a long and fun life together. I am discovering that God did prepare me and not just for that one day but for all the days thereafter. You will discover the same.