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A Pillar of Fire to Lead the Way

    Normally when we have to wait we get frustrated, impatient and beg, plead and bargain with God trying to get Him to let us move on and make things work the way we think they ought to. But waiting is a blessing from God - a gift of time to learn.

    Have you ever felt like you were walking blind through life, not knowing day to day what to do or how to do it? Have you ever wished that the Lord's direction were as constant and visible in your life as the pillar of fire that led the children of Israel? It can be. You don't have to walk blindly. You can have the Holy Spirit as your guide.

    Sometimes the light the Holy Spirit brings is abundant and bright, at other times it leads us line upon line and precept upon precept. (Isaiah 28:13) In the wilderness experiences of life, we often feel like the Lord is only giving us direction on a "need to know basis" just as the Israelites were given only enough manna for the day it was gathered (Exodus 16:15-35). Gordon B. Hinckley used the analogy of a locomotive to describe this phenomenon:

    "Long ago I worked for one of our railroads. I frequently rode the trains. It was in the days when there were steam locomotives. Those great monsters of the rails were huge and fast and dangerous. I often wondered how the engineer dared the long journey through the night. Then I came to realize that it was not one long journey, but rather a constant continuation of a short journey. The engine had a powerful headlight that made bright the way for a distance of 400 or 500 yards. The engineer saw only that distance, and that was enough, because it was constantly before him all through the night into the dawn of the new day�. And so it is with our eternal journey. We take one step at a time. In doing so we reach toward the unknown, but faith lights the way. If we will cultivate that faith, we shall never walk in darkness." 1

    The children of Israel cultivated faith in their wilderness experience. They spent 40 years learning to trust the Lord and have faith in Him. In the wilderness, they whined and complained for water, and Moses struck rocks to bring forth water for them to drink (Num. 20: 10-11, Exodus 17:6). When they whined for food, the Lord dropped manna from the skies. They were dependent upon others to provide their daily food and water. They didn't have the power or the faith to access inspiration on their own. Contrast this with the Promised Land where an abundant variety of food was readily available and where brooks, fountains and springs came up out of the valleys and hills (See Deuteronomy 8:7-17) Only those who had developed faith and trust could receive the abundant blessings of the Promised Land.

    Paul taught the Corinthians that the Rock that Moses struck for water symbolized Jesus Christ � the Rock and foundation of our faith (see 1 Corinthians 10:1-6). And according to the Savior, the manna also represented Him. John 6:31-35 says, "Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world�I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst."

    Just as food and water flows more abundantly in the Promised Land, so does guidance from the Holy Ghost in our spiritual Promised Land. Your goal is to get to and stay in a spiritual Promised Land where the inspiration flows in abundance. You want to begin to catch a vision of the big picture and be led by the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost who confirms each step you make � like that light on the locomotive leading the way. The closer we live to the Spirit, the fewer mistakes we make. In time, you learn to listen to the still small voice. You learn to distinguish the peace and the comfort the Spirit brings. But it's more than just learning. The gift of the Holy Ghost is just that - a gift - a constant companion rather than an occasional visitor. It's the difference between striking the rock to make the water flow out and being in the Promised Land where the water bubbles up in abundance from natural springs.

    But how do you enter the Promised Land? The children of Israel needed two important things to enter their Promised Land. They needed enough faith and trust in God to follow where He led them, and they needed to make and keep covenants with the Lord.

    Making and Keeping Covenants

    A covenant is a two-way promise where we promise the Lord something and He promises us something in return. For example, the Abrahamic covenant is the ultimate example with the result being a Promised Land for Abraham and Sarah and their posterity. In Genesis 15 & 17 the Lord covenants with Abraham and Sarah (then childless) to give them a posterity as numerous as the sands of the sea, and gave them the land of Canaan as the Promised Land for them and their posterity. This same covenant was renewed with Isaac (Genesis 26:1-5, 24) and Jacob (Genesis 28:1-4, 10-14; Genesis 35:9-13; Genesis 48:3-4).

    Again, the Lord renewed this covenant with the children of Israel at the mountain. The Lord gave Moses the stipulations of the covenant, "Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel."

    "And Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before their faces all these words which the Lord commanded him. And all the people answered together, and said, All that the Lord hath spoken we will do. And Moses returned the words of the people unto the Lord." (Exodus 19:3-8.)

    They broke this agreement shortly after when they had Aaron shape the golden calf. Repeatedly they broke this covenant and subsequently lost the guiding and protective power of the Holy Spirit. They did not heed Moses' warning: "Take heed unto yourselves, lest ye forget the covenant of the Lord your God, which he made with you, and make you a graven image, or the likeness of any thing, which the Lord thy God hath forbidden thee." (Deuteronomy 4:23) As long as they kept their part of the covenant, the Lord blessed them. But when they broke their covenant � usually by worshipping idols � they lost these privileges and blessings and eventually were scattered throughout the nations of the earth.. (See Deuteronomy 31:16-22) The Lord is bound when we do what He says, but when we don't, we have no promise.

    Today, I'd say there are very few of us who are going to make golden calves and bow down to them, but we do have our idols. They may be money, pleasure, fame, wealth, sports, TV or even our careers. Jeremiah seems to have been speaking to us directly today when he spoke of those who "worshipped the works of their own hands." (Jeremiah 1:16)

    Anything that occupies a higher place in our hearts than God blocks our ability to see, hear and understand the messages from the Holy Spirit. We cannot hear a Master we do not serve. Like the Israelites, if we want to enter and remain in our Promised Land, we must make and keep covenants with Him to keep Him first in our hearts. When we become Christ's, we become "Abraham's seed and heirs according to the promise." (Galatians 3:27-29). We must develop faith and trust that He has our best interests at heart. We must hunger and thirst for the truth and His guidance � Christ's living waters and Bread of Life. It takes opening our minds to the possibilities, and looking beyond the obvious realities � beyond the giants and the walled cities - and seeing the divine possibilities that only God can deliver. Then, and only then, may we hope to enter and remain in our Promised Land.

    1 Gordon B. Hinckley, "We Live By Faith," April 2002

    � Marnie Pehrson

    Marnie L. Pehrson is a wife, mother of 6 and consultant who helps talented professionals deliver their message to the online world. She is the author of 10 Steps to Fulfilling Your Divine Destiny: A Christian Woman's Guide to Learning & Living God's Plan for Her and may be reached at http://www.pwgroup.com or webmaster@shelovesgod.com .

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