Near the end of this passage is a description of something amazing. The pillar of cloud and fire that God lived in stayed with the camp through their entire journey. It lifted when they were to move and settled when they were to stay. God Himself directed their journey every single day. If anyone wondered whether they still had to obey God's commands, they could look out the front of their tent and see the pillar over the tabernacle. There was no need to wonder where they had to go or what they had to do. God directed them personally. God gave them their roles and duties directly and provided them an immediate daily reminder that He was there and in charge.
I wonder when it ceased to be a wonder... When you see a miracle every day, does it become just an ordinary miracle? Does it become like an image in a stained glass window--pretty to see but mundane? Can you spend 25 years of your career working in the presence of an act of God and begin to see it as ordinary? Probably.
I say that because from an early age I was gifted with what others see as a special relationship with God. I cannot remember a time in my life that I couldn't settle my heart, reach out to Him and speak with Him as a friend. What would have been an unthinkable miracle even to the Israelites in the wilderness is a common occurance to me. Granted, I can't live without Him. If I forget to speak with Him, my life becomes barren and parched, like a dehydrated traveler adrift on an ocean with only salt water surrounding him. Still, I can forget. This intimate relationship with the Father is the birthright of all those who have been bought by His blood and sealed with His Holy Spirit. Yet it is easy to walk as if it isn't necessary to take advantage of the blessings He has so richly bestowed upon us. He tells us that apart from Him we can do nothing and it is like the wind rustling in the tops of the trees. We nod our heads and say, "That's nice..." and move on as if nothing has happened. I say "we" because I am just as guilty.
The last few years, it has astounded me to talk with my son and hear him say, "But Mom, I can't hear Him like you do." He has accepted Christ. He is God's son, but he hasn't yet learned to hear God for himself. I trust that God will do that for him when he is ready, but how often do I go on with my life and fail to seek God even though it is easy for me to find Him.
This miraculous relationship was both a gift and a skill. I have always heard Him but I have not always been able to distinguish Him from all the other voices coming at me, including the voice of my own heart. I have studied the scriptures throughout my lifetime and that provides both balance for me and a wide vocabulary of scripture that God continually uses to speak into my life. In the same way, for the Israelites, the cloud was a gift, but the following was a work. Many of God's miraculous gifts are like that. He does the miracle. We work with Him in the natural things that we can do.
Today, think about the miracles that God has given you. Take time to worship Him for His miraculous activity in your life. Don't miss out on the wonder just because they happen frequently. Also think about the work you need to do to cultivate the power of that miracle in your own life.