Psalm of Praise: Psalms 112:1,7
Praise the Lord.
Blessed are those who fear the Lord,
who find great delight in his commands.
They will have no fear of bad news;
their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.
Bible Reading: Exodus 13:20-22
After leaving Sukkoth the Israelites camped at Etham on the edge of the desert.
By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.
When the children were young we enjoyed many caravan holidays travelling around the UK and I became quite confident at towing the caravan. The thought of towing a caravan abroad, though, was something else, especially navigating junctions and roundabouts on the ‘wrong side of the road’. The first time we went to France, in the long summer break from theological college, I made no promises how far from the port we would venture. As it was, with the aid of maps and guidebooks, we made it in stages all the way to the Spanish boarder and had a great holiday.
But I really don’t like driving on a mountain road, especially if I am in the outside lane. Once on a Greek Island we drove a hire car from our resort along the coast road, to the other side of the island. We had a lovely day out only to find, when we set off back, that they had closed the coast road and the only way back to our resort was over a mountain and down the other side. And it was getting dark.
While deliberating what to do, a car went past us on the road we needed to take, and we were able to follow its taillights all the way around and over the mountain, confident that if they made it safely back, so would we. We were very grateful to them and to God.
When Israel came out of Egypt and journeyed through the wilderness to the Promised Land they didn’t know the way. It was a foreign land and they didn’t know the roads or the terrain. To guide them on their journey, God sent before them a pillar of cloud to guide them in the daytime and a pillar of flame to guide them at night. In this way they were able to travel safely by day or by night.
When we become followers of Jesus, he promises to guide us all the way. Whether it seems as though we are walking in daylight or in darkness, he will guide us by his Word and by his Spirit. And what is more, he goes before us, and when we arrive he will already be there.
Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in the mouth of friend and stranger.
Christ be beside me, Christ be before me