We were a camping family. Most Summer vacations would find us packed in the mini van, gear and luggage tied to the top, driving to the Redwoods, the Snake River, Yellowstone, or the like.
We were a tent camping family. I was too young to really be involved in the nitty gritty planning involved – kudos to The Parentals for organizing and wrangling us on these adventures – but I wasn’t too young to help set up camp. Campsites needed to be chosen and cleared. Tents needed to be assembled. Firewood needed to be gathered. It was a family affair.
Those things – the deciding, the clearing, the assembling, the gathering – are tedious and, often, tensive. To this day, the anticipation of those tasks remains a hurdle between me and the great outdoors.
I would love to arrive at a campsite where my sleeping bag was already nestled into a constructed tent, my evening coffee was percolating over a crackling fire, and my water containers were full.
The Israelites were also a camping family. In fact, they were basically professional nomads. I marvel at families who go on extended road trips across the country or around the world, but the Israelites have us all beat. They went on a rather epic forty-year camping trip through the desert. That is a lot of clearing and assembling and gathering and organizing and tearing down and moving. No thanks.
I can imagine the arguments that erupted from so much camping.
“I don’t want to move those rocks. Why can’t we pitch our tent over there…”
“Mattias, you need to find two more bundles of wood before you go play.”
“We’ve been walking for-ev-ver. Are we THERE yet?”
The sad thing is, the Israelites could have avoided that decades long camp fest.
See, the Lord your God has placed the land before you; go up, take possession, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has spoken to you. Do not fear or be dismayed…It is a good land which the Lord our God is about to give us.
Deuteronomy 1:21 & 25
God had already prepared a campsite for them – He had done the hard work of picking the perfect place, clearing it of obstructions, and making sure there was plenty of food and water. But, what God picked wasn’t what the Israelites had imagined. Instead of seeing the bounty and beauty of the land God had prepared, their trust in God’s provision was blinded by the potential threat of giants.
Along with the whole setting up tents thing, the idea of bears invading camp is enough to make me balk at going camping. My husband is an old-hand at camping. I’ve heard about his past experiences and I’ve seen his expertise first hand. If he says our campsite is not at risk, I should have full confidence in his decision.
The same goes for the Israelites. God had been nothing but faithful to His people – liberating them from Egypt, giving them victories over their enemies, supplying food to eat. If He says the land is safe and ready to be occupied, they should have full confidence in His decision.
God promises to go ahead of you and prepare the way. He may not take the route you expected. He may not pick a campsite with the view you wanted. He may not pitch the tent as fast as you had hoped. He may not rent the space for as long as you’d like. But, God goes before us.
The Lord your God who goes before you will Himself fight on your behalf, just as He did for you in Egypt before your eyes, and in the wilderness where you saw how the Lord your God carried you, just as a man carries his son, in all the way which you have walked until you came to this place.’ “But for all this, you did not trust the Lord your God, who goes before you on your way, to seek out a place for you to encamp, in fire by night and cloud by day, to show you the way in which you should go.
Let these words of Moses encourage you. He will carry you. He will seek out what is best for you.