The LORD went in front of them in a pillar of cloud by day, to lead them along the way, and in a pillar of fire by night, to give them light, so that they might travel by day and by night. 22 Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.
I was trail running the other week when I came to a fork in the trail. I had been following white blazes, but was suddenly faced with a choice. Both directions were decorated with green blazes–the whites had disappeared. I went down both paths, hoping that the white blazes would reappear. No luck. I had to make a choice as to which way to go. In the end, I just made the best guess I could and pushed forward. While it wasn’t the way I had expected, I did get back to my car eventually.
I made at least three mistakes on this outing. 1) I had thought I knew the route so I left my map in the car, 2) I went out there by myself, and 3) I wasn’t paying attention a few miles earlier to see if the white trail had split off.
For many of us, life can have this experience. We may be heading in the direction we had mapped out and planned, when suddenly we are faced with an unexpected decision. And neither option seems to fit with what we had expected to find around the next bend. Ultimately, we have to make a decision and push forward, trusting that we will persevere.
One of my favorite images in the Bible is how God became a pillar of fire and cloud for the Israelites as they were hiking out of Egypt. He illuminated their paths in the evening, and give direction during the day; He never left their side.
This is God’s promise to us as well. Though we may find ourselves lost and uncertain about where to head; though we may think we know the direction we want to go, or we go it alone, or we just stop paying attention and allow life to whiz by us, we can rest assured that whatever trail we end up taking God is going before us blazing his trail for us.