Numbers 9:1-14 (Part 4) – California Might As Well Have Been Mars!

Posted: August 14, 2016 in Book of Numbers
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Numbers 9:1-14 (Part 4)

The Second Passover

Significant decisions. Life changing decisions. They are tough to make. We’ve all been there at one time or another or maybe even multiple times in our lives. What to do? What to do? Pros and cons. Trying to make a decision that will make everyone happy. Probably one of the most momentous decisions that I have ever had to make was in the Fall of 2008. At the time, I was working as a consultant here in Duncan, SC with America Fujikura, Ltd. (AFL) (an American subsidiary of the Japanese publicly traded company, Fujikura, Ltd.) helping them with the implementation of the Japanese parliament’s mandated internal control systems law. Just as the American congress had passed a law called the Sarbanes-Oxley law (or SOX) as the result of financial scandals in the US in 2001, the Japanese had suffered through the same thing in 2007. Since the law passed by Japan was so similar to the American law, many called it JSOX. Anyway, the JSOX law implementation at AFL had provided me with a long-term assignment. I was here for 8 months solid working on the project. The full-time work for us consultants was coming to an end. However, one of the subsidiaries of AFL was a mess when it came to financial reporting and internal controls. It was their California subsidiary, Fujikura America, Inc. (FAI). As the director of internal audit found, it was impossible to remotely get things corrected out there. They needed a consultant to go out there and stay out there for 6 months. They asked me to go. That was not the tough decision. It was only a six-month assignment. I would get to come home every three weeks or so. It was temporary. And in 2008, it was right at the beginning of the worst US recession since the Great Depression. Work was hard to find back in those years between 2008-2010. The decision to continue this consulting gig, though in California, was not a real tough decision. It was to be a 6 month adventure in California. What a unique opportunity! No that was not the tough decision!

 

Six months later, when this consulting gig (that had started in October 2007 just when I needed a job) was now ending. By Thanksgiving 2008, I was to be finished. The internal control system at AFL’s global operations had been completed. My work at the FAI subsidiary out in California was coming to a close based on what I was being told. I knew as early as September that I would be packing up and heading home by late November. However, it was in mid-September 2008, that a decision began looming on my horizon that would change my life. The controller at FAI at that time was a pitiful excuse for a leader and as an accountant. Because of poor hires by FAI over the previous six years, they had gone through 3 controllers and this latest one was one of the worst accountants that I had every personally met. The accounting function at FAI was a complete mess and an utter failure when it came to the reliability of any data or any financials that came out of that place. I guess she saw the handwriting on the wall, that she was in over her head, she resigned suddenly to take a purchasing job at another Japanese-owned company in the Bay Area. Because of the experience that AFL financial management and FAI senior executives had with me over the previous 11 months, they immediately offered me the job as controller at FAI. Ok. Now, there’s the tough decision. Momentous decision. The toughest decision of my life.

 

I am a South Carolina boy. I had up to that point always lived in South Carolina. I love the Southern culture and the Southern life. My family is rooted here going back many generations. My girlfriend at the time (now, my wife of six years, Elena) was back here in South Carolina. My kids, my girls, were back here in South Carolina. Everything about my life was South Carolina. Although my past employers over my career had allowed me to see the world, literally, through my travels as internal auditor, I had always come home to South Carolina. This is my home. I love travel but South Carolina is home. There is just something intrinsically good about living here. The people are nice and race relations, though they could be improved, are a far-cry better than the stereotypes the rest of the nation places on the South and a far-cry better than they are in other parts of the country. People here are just nice for the most part. People here are all about what’s good for the economy. People here are about hard work. People here are about not taking hand-outs from the government. People here still see God and the Bible and church as a necessary part of life (though this is in decline like much of the rest of the nation). So, this place I love calling my home is South Carolina. Temporary assignments away from it were no big deal to me, but a permanent one away from South Carolina. And we are not talking a state next door, like Georgia or North Carolina. No, this was California – completely across the continent. It’s a four-day drive to California if you drive 10 hours a day for four days. It’s a long way away. I mean a loooooong way away from South Carolina. What to do? It was 2008. Jobs were scarce. Nobody was hiring. Back then, if you had a job, you considered yourself lucky and you stayed put at that job and held on for dear life. What to do?

 

This was momentous decision. Back then, I was a baby Christian. I had not grown very much in my walk with Christ in the 7 years (at that point in 2008) that I had been a Christ follower. Never in my life had I had to make such a momentous decision. To move to California permanently might as well been like moving to Mars. It was like the biggest decision EVER. Elena and I had been dating bi-coastally for a while but it was seen as a temporary problem til now. We would be bi-coastal permanently (unless she moved to California). My girls were back home and they had their lives firmly rooted here. My mom and dad and the whole Bowling clan was basically all here in South Carolina. Tough decision with wide-ranging implications. Although I had not been much on prayer up to that point (and am still in need of improving my prayer life to this day), that was one weekend that I had a mighty struggle in prayer with God. It was a weekend where nothing felt right. It was a weekend where I toss and turned and could not sleep. It was a weekend where there was a continuous on-going conversation with the Lord. Although I longed for home, for South Carolina, the feeling that I kept getting from the Lord was to take the job. It was that feeling that won out.

 

I took the job. It not only changed my career but it also changed everything for me (and for Elena) in our walk with the Lord. If I had not accepted this job in California, Elena would not have moved to be with me. If she had not moved to be with me, we would not have settled in Livermore, CA (where Elena found Jesus and I finally started maturing as a Christ follower). If we had not settled in Livermore, we would not have met Luke & Felisha who nurtured our faith and unknowingly readied us for our return to South Carolina in 2010. And it is here that we found LifeSong Church where we serve the Lord with great passion. All of it hinged on that one tough decision that required a weekend of anguished prayer as to whether to take a permanent job in California or not. I am thankful to the Lord that He influenced me to go against the grain and take the job. Everything has changed with that decision. Where would my life be without that one decision? I shudder to think about it. I know that it was God’s plan for it to happen the way it did. I am thankful that I listened to the Lord. I sought the Lord for once and listened to Him for once. It was the start of me trusting in Him, for real.

 

Let’s read through the passage, Numbers 9:1-14, for the fourth time this morning and for this morning, let’s concentrate on v. 8 today:

 

 

9 The Lord spoke to Moses in the Desert of Sinai in the first month of the second year after they came out of Egypt. He said, 2 “Have the Israelites celebrate the Passover at the appointed time. 3 Celebrate it at the appointed time, at twilight on the fourteenth day of this month, in accordance with all its rules and regulations.”

 

4 So Moses told the Israelites to celebrate the Passover, 5 and they did so in the Desert of Sinai at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month. The Israelites did everything just as the Lord commanded Moses.

 

6 But some of them could not celebrate the Passover on that day because they were ceremonially unclean on account of a dead body. So they came to Moses and Aaron that same day 7 and said to Moses, “We have become unclean because of a dead body, but why should we be kept from presenting the Lord’s offering with the other Israelites at the appointed time?”

 

8 Moses answered them, “Wait until I find out what the Lord commands concerning you.”

 

9 Then the Lord said to Moses, 10 “Tell the Israelites: ‘When any of you or your descendants are unclean because of a dead body or are away on a journey, they are still to celebrate the Lord’s Passover, 11 but they are to do it on the fourteenth day of the second month at twilight. They are to eat the lamb, together with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. 12 They must not leave any of it till morning or break any of its bones. When they celebrate the Passover, they must follow all the regulations. 13 But if anyone who is ceremonially clean and not on a journey fails to celebrate the Passover, they must be cut off from their people for not presenting the Lord’s offering at the appointed time. They will bear the consequences of their sin.

 

14 “‘A foreigner residing among you is also to celebrate the Lord’s Passover in accordance with its rules and regulations. You must have the same regulations for both the foreigner and the native-born.’”

 

Here, in this passage, Moses had a momentous decision to make. The easy way out would have been to compromise God’s standards and allow them to partake of the Passover rites. They accidently and unknowingly defiled themselves. They did not do it on purpose. It would have been easy for Moses to make a knee-jerk, immediate decision and compromise the holiness standards established by God for the Passover. Moses knew that the easy way out might bring further and deeper complications such as consequences from God for not following his requirements. Tough decision. Take the easy way out or take the harder road. Satisfy the crowd or satisfy God. What does Moses do? He delays his decision until He can pray and hear from the Lord. Because, above all, Moses wanted to satisfy the Lord. He did not want to make a decision clouded with personal desires and the opinions of others. He wanted to take time to pray and get His direction from God.

 

How do you make decisions? Do you pray about them? Do you even pray? I admit that my prayer life still to this day is not what it should be? I need to learn to set aside time for intimate one-on-one prayer with God without distractions. We need to become intimate with Him like Moses was. We should aspire to be able to discern God’s voice through the clutter of life and the chatter of opinions of others. We need to sit down and pray. We need to listen. Sometimes our prayers might simply be to be quiet and alone and undistracted and simply listen for God’s voice. Sometimes, we need to implore and beg and plead with Him. Sometimes, we need to shout in anger. Sometimes, we need to sing in praise. We just need to spend intimate time with Him. How do we have great relationships with our wives? We talk with them. We get to know them deeper and deeper in conversations over the years. Why are we not like that with the Lord? In order to be intimate with Him, to better know His will for our lives, we have to talk to Him every day. We need to consult Him in everything. Especially those big decisions that change the course of our lives. When we listen to the Lord, when we seek Him in prayer, you can look back almost a decade later and see how listening to the Lord and seeking Him in prayer has been the most important thing you ever did.

 

Amen and Amen.

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