I can’t resist commenting on today’s reading from the Narrative Lectionary found in Exodus 13:17–22. Pharoah had finally let the people go and they headed out to the Promised land. The logical path was to the north. It was a straight shot from Egypt to Canaan. I can just imagine all the people leaning left to begin the northern journey.

But then the pillar of cloud showed up.

God led the people with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. The cloud, however, must have been new to the area. It didn’t turn left and take the northern route. Instead, it took a right and headed down to the wilderness and the Red Sea.

“Um, excuse me, cloud. That’s not the right way! We don’t have a boat.”

What would you have done in that moment? You either have to believe that God is with the cloud and follow it, or trust in the conventional wisdom and set out on your own.

I said I couldn’t resist this passage because the tag line for my blog–for my life–is “following the cloud.” It has been my experience that God almost always leads us through strange, unpredictable, and not always comfortable paths. The temptation, in the moment, is to question God’s wisdom–even God’s faithfulness–and run in the opposite direction. Yet, time after time, upon looking back, we are able to make sense out of God’s strange leading.

The challenge, of course, is to know what the cloud is today, and how to discern when it is moving and when it is painfully standing still.



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