Week 35 The Cloud and the Fire

Today’s Text: Numbers 9-12

Key Text: Numbers 9:15-17

“On the day the tabernacle was set up, the cloud covered the tabernacle, the tent of the covenant, and from evening until morning, it was over the tabernacle, having the appearance of fire. It was always so: the cloud covered it by day and the appearance of fire by night. Whenever the cloud lifted from over the tent, then the Israelites would set out; and in the place where the cloud settled, there the Israelites would camp.”

It has been dramatically portrayed over the years – in countless drawings, paintings, and on film – for good reason.

It is a powerful image – that of God’s guiding presence – day and night – as the people of God wandered in the wilderness.

I love picturing it.

For me, it speaks so much about God’s powerful and holy presence.

It also speaks of God’s deep and abiding love.

True, many times the people – we – have wandered away. They have forgotten to look to the cloud and the fire – and have not followed in faithful trust.

Other times, though, the people – we – have returned to God and God has always been willing to take us back.

Wilderness wanderings – literally or figuratively speaking – are never easy.

But how wonderful it is that God loves us enough to always provide the Way to follow.

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. “Elpis” is the Greek word for “expectant hope.” He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors, and a member of Spiritual Directors International. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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