Don’t let yourself get frustrated by all the starting and stopping in your walk with Christ. Just know our journey as Christians never will be finished until the very End, when Christ returns triumphantly. Perfection won’t come until the Perfect One comes to make things perfect. Until then, we follow – sometimes in fits and starts – the “cloud” of God’s presence (Numbers 10:33-36).
God didn’t want his people Israel to forget all the starting and stopping and the long journey through the wilderness. Nor does he want us to forget. Moses wrote these were “starting places” – 42 places where the people camped upon their journey to the Promised Land. Sometimes, the places were scenes of God’s blessing and grace. Sometimes, they were places of Israel’s failure.
We all start from somewhere, too. And it doesn’t really matter where we start. “And such were some of you,” Paul said to the former idolaters and adulterers and thieves in Corinth (1 Corinthians 6:11). Even after we’ve started, we might stop. And we might turn aside. This likely shames us the most, even more than our lives before Christ (Mark 14:72).
We aren’t to forget these things, just as Israel was not. All of it – the entire hard journey – tells the story of God’s grace. God always was with his people, always protecting, always forgiving. The cloud was ever present.
“And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). It is good to look back on our own journey with Christ and remember it is but a journey. The End – perhaps we can call it the new Promised Land, a new heaven and earth – is where we are headed.
We remember so we may learn from our mistakes. And we remember so we can see again the grace of God in our lives.