God picks our addresses, not us.
The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit. (John 3:8)
This is such a fun and intriguing verse. To me it has always meant Christ followers can never know when or where they are going next. God directs our paths. Sometimes the plan changes calmly and with planning. Other times our shifts in direction come as a complete surprise. Those surprises can wreak havoc on our emotions, for sure. Any time life causes us to do a hard pivot, fear and anxiety can come crashing down upon us.
Change shakes us up at first.
On the first day in the wilderness, the Israelites must have been terrified. The night before they had traveled through the parted Red Sea in the dark, probably wondering the entire time if the wall of water beside them was going to collapse. Their fears were not far-fetched. Once safely on land on the other side, they turned around to watch the water collapse on the Egyptian army that was chasing them. The 400 years of brutal slavery were over. I feel confident surmising they arrived at their new home a bit traumatized.
How did God respond? He came up with a fool-proof master plan. His people would never be alone. And they would always know where to go because He would always take the lead.
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. (Exodus 13:21-22)
God says when.
How comforting it must have been to have that cloud or pillar of fire nearby at all times. In addition to staying ever-present with His people, when God wanted them to move, He led the way.
Whether the cloud stayed over the tabernacle for two days or a month or a year, the Israelites would remain in camp and not set out; but when it lifted, they would set out. At the Lord’s command they encamped, and at the Lord’s command they set out. They obeyed the Lord’s order, in accordance with his command through Moses. (Numbers 9:22-23)
Just like the wind, addresses for most people will change over the course of our lives. We can think we are making those decisions, but Scripture suggests those shifts aren’t random, but from the Lord.
From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. (Acts 17:26)
We don’t have a cloud or pillar of fire that they world can observe from afar, but we have the Spirit of God inside of us and God’s sovereignty over history to show us when to move and where to move. The following verse implies even people who don’t know Christ yet are guided to their addresses.
Why does He move us?
One answer is in the next verse: God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. (Acts 17:26-27)
It appears God is orchestrating our locations in order for us to reach out for him and find him. Our moves are meant to grow us or grow the Kingdom of God, probably both. I have come to think no address change is random.
Are you honoring your address?
As described in Numbers 9:22, whether we are at our current location “for two days or a month or a year,” God has us there for a purpose. Consider asking God to glorify His name through your life today at your current address. Ask that He would reveal His intention for moving you there.
It is probably best not to use words of certainty with regard to our homes such as, “We will stay here until the kids are grown,” or “This is where we will retire.”
Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil.(James 4:13-16)
All such boasting is evil.
Yikes! No boasting allowed. No pretending to know what God has in mind.
Not only do any of us know what tomorrow will bring, this verse applies to all Christ followers: The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit. (John 3:18)
So it is with everyone born of the Spirit. (James 4:13-16)
If those words frighten you, you are not alone. Few of us would contemplate these realities without some emotion! But then we are challenged to place our emotions on the stable truth that God always goes with us and leads the way.
We are never alone.
Picture Explanation: We combined Mother’s Day with another family and celebrated on their new land yesterday. Explaining the photos from top to bottom, we discovered a grove of umbrella magnolias that were stunning and my son enjoyed the equipment and hanging around a stream.
Because of this post, I made a list of 16 addresses at which I have lived since birth. At each, a segment of my life occurred that led to a Mother’s Day celebration yesterday in 2022 in this exact location walking with my daughter’s mother-in-law at this address on the globe. Proverbs 16:9 is correct: In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.
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