It was one of those days. The kind where the sun pricks and stings your skin the minute you walk out the door. It bore down like an unwelcome guest, spreading its heat and slowing me down in the process.
I was determined to get my walk in anyway. I made my way to the base of the trail and dug into each step with stubbornness and grit, ignoring the sun overhead as best I could.
Midway up, my trail joined a smaller trail offering some shade. I took the bait and stepped onto the more shady path. Immediately I was met with relief. I found myself looking ahead to the next spot of shade the trail offered and locked my sights there. I moved up shade by shade by shade.
It reminded me of a passage in the Bible where Moses is leading the Israelites out of Egypt. Exodus 13:21-22 reads, “And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night: He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.”
The children of Israel wandered through the sun-parched wilderness protected by one thing: a cloud of shade. In a far-off middle-eastern desert (not too different from a hot American summer, I imagine) that shade must have brought respite, relief, comfort and rest.
That day on the trail, shade mattered more to me than anything else. It was the only thing that kept me going.
In Moses’ time, I think, by sending a cloud of shade, God was trying to say to the children of Israel, “Trust me. I matter more than anything else. I’ll support you. I’ll sustain you. I’ll keep you going in the right direction.”
And, if we listen carefully, God is still doing and saying the same things today.
That passage in Exodus also says God was a pillar of fire by night. Fire is often associated with light, safety and warmth. Have an accident on a deserted road? Light a flare. Making your way home after dark? Take a flashlight. Chilly night? Light a fire in your hearth.
Today we can look to God for the same comforts: He promises to give us His light, safety and warmth.
Here are six more Bible passages to give you relief during those days when you think you can’t keep going. (The first of the promised seven is the passage mentioned above, Exodus 13:21-22.)
“I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.”
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
“Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief.”
“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”
“I am warm, I have seen the fire.”
“Whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe.”
That day, when I went searching for shade, I unwittingly was searching for God as well and thinking about His role in my life. How often are His works unseen until we pause and take notice?
I came away from my walk in the wilderness feeling guided and protected. I felt determined to look more closely for God’s protection, guidance and light he places in my daily pathway.
We can see his influence everywhere if we’ll only stop and look. It seems like we can only sense Him when we have a quiet heart, open to reflection. We must be still enough to notice a single cloud or single ray of light.
Said the famous architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, “God is in the details.”