Monday, February 27, 2012

Following God

Whenever the ark set out, Moses said, “Rise up, O Lord!
May your enemies be scattered;
May your foes flee before you”
Whenever it came to rest, he said, “Return, O Lord
To the countless thousands of Israel.
Numbers 10:35-36

There’s a big difference between Noah’s ark and the one that Moses had built.  Noah’s was a big boat.  Moses’ was a box — a container for the tablets of the Ten Commandments.  It was the holy object at the center of the holiest place where God came to meet with his people.  The ark signified God’s presence in the camp of the Israelites.  It reminded them of their special place in God’s heart, and of his love and care for them. 
         After their escape from Egypt, the Israelites are on their way to the Promised Land.  God had not only promised them this land, but had also promised to lead them into it and deliver it up, right into their hands.  God sent a cloud of smoke before them, which would settle in one place for a while telling them they should camp there.  If the cloud began to rise and move, they packed up and followed the cloud.  They were in a strange land, a wilderness, and wanted to make sure that they didn’t lose sight of God.  When the cloud began to rise and the Israelites set out on the next leg of their journey, Moses would call out: “Rise, O Lord!”  When the cloud settled somewhere, he’d shout, “Return, O Lord!”
             This picture came to mind as I sat in my office last week watching construction workers cut a big arc of concrete out of our front sidewalk.  All of a sudden, a dusty white cloud began to rise up, and I was reminded of that strange cloud that Moses and the Israelites followed.  The people of Atonement have been wandering in a wilderness of their own these past few years, waiting and wondering when a cloud will rise and signal a move forward.  We’ve waited for the county to come buy our frontage, waited for the road in front of the church to be widened, and waited for our own renovation and renewal to get started.  We have put up with a broken building, ragged landscape, and a parking area that is rough to say the least. 
             But that day last week, a cloud rose up over Atonement.  The Lord is leading us on.  The time has come to get straightened up, cleaned up, and to rise up and follow where our Lord shows the way.  In a couple weeks, we will see a transformed front to our site.  New pavement and curves, a new traffic pattern, a parking loop around the side and back of the church, and new landscaping will give us outstanding presentation and utility.  Our church will be immediately more accessible, usable, and attractive. 
       But there is more to come.  A new building is needed to deal with our current space concerns and need for a fully equipped kitchen.  A building fund is now in place to make this long-overdue addition possible.  We thank you for your patience and for your prayers and financial partnership as we rise up together to follow our God into the long-promised tomorrow.


Pastor Scott