Then Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain.
I like having a plan. Whether Lindsey and I are preparing to travel with Elijah, or the church is hosting an event, or even just putting together the order of worship for Sunday mornings, I like having a plan. This need for structure and planning probably began during my time in scouting (“Be Prepared”) and it has continued to manifest itself throughout my life over and over again.
When I felt God calling me to a life of ministry as a teenager, I started planning with my home church pastors about where to go to school and how to follow the guidelines of the United Methodist Church to be ordained one day.
When I experienced God calling me to spend the rest of my life with Lindsey, I started planning the perfect way to propose to her while we were dating.
When I received the call to serve St. John’s UMC, I started planning all the ways I could help move and nurture the church even before I set foot on the property.
I like knowing where the road of life is leading me. Yet, for most of the people in scripture, the way forward is more like walking into a dense cloud covering the mountain.
Abraham was told to go to a strange new land and he did not have the advantage of Googling it before he arrived. Noah was told to build an ark and fill it will animals without really knowing what life would be like on the other side of the flood. Moses’ mother placed him in a basket and let him float down the Nile River without knowing what would happen to her precious baby boy. And Moses went up on the mountain to encounter the Lord while a cloud covered everything he could see.
When I read these stories in scripture, they make me anxious. I think they make me anxious because in the characters I encounter a faithfulness that I rarely experience in my own life. Again and again, God’s chosen people are ready and willing to walk into the cloud of the unknown, while I insist on patiently preparing for any and every contingency.
Part of the strange and beautiful mystery of following Jesus Christ is that we do not know where He is leading us. We might have an idea based on stories from scripture and the experiences of the disciples, but the road that leads to life eternal is one that is often covered with a thick and dense cloud.
Or to put it another way, a biblical way: Do not worry about what tomorrow will bring. Rejoice in cloud of the unknown and the comfort of the living God who surrounds you with hope and grace and peace. Celebrate the mystery of not know what is about to come, but that God is with you in the midst of it. Enjoy the strange and beautiful thing we call life; a life that is strange and beautiful precisely because it is not under our control.