How did the Jewish people navigate their way through the desert? They didn’t have the Waze app, but they had their own form of GPS – a G-d Positioning System. G-d surrounded them with clouds called the Ananei HaKavod – the “Clouds of Honor” throughout their journey. “When the cloud would rise above the tent [of the Tabernacle], after that the Children of Israel would travel, and in the place that the cloud settled, there the Children of Israel camped. By the word of G-d the Children of Israel traveled, and by the word of G-d they camped. (Numbers 9:17-18).”
There were times they stayed in one place for years, and at other times they would move on after only a day. They also did not know how long they would sojourn in any location ahead of time. Each encampment meant pitching tents for their families, and erecting the Holy Tabernacle to bring the daily offerings of the Temple service. As they went through the trouble of setting up the camp for millions of men, women and children, they knew that the next morning G-d might lift the cloud again and direct them to travel further. Nonetheless, they dutifully set up camp each time, and then broke it down to follow Him onwards.
We might consider such a life unsettling; not knowing where they would be, and how much physical work would be expected from one day to the next. But the truth is, our own lives are not much different. Do we know what tomorrow, or even today, will bring? We don’t, and often it’s not what we expected or prepared for. The fear of the unknown is real, even when we follow our daily routine of “eat, sleep, repeat.”
If we want to not merely survive, but thrive in this world, we should keep one thing in mind: “By the word of G-d they traveled, and by the word of G-d they camped.” Only G-d knows how our day is going to go. We just have to follow His lead and know that we are in His protective hands. His roadmap, not ours, leads us through life, and remembering and accepting that is the guarantee for a safe and meaningful trip. Enjoy the ride!