Your Bedouin Invitation

There are suitcases straddling the couch and sleeping bags coiled beside them.

Photo: Charles Roffey, Creative Commons, cc license
Photo: Kashfi Halford, Creative Commons, cc license

“Do you think it’ll be cold?” I ask, grabbing a blue plaid shirt. There are replies from across the house. “We can always layer more, I guess.”

Phone calls come and go from teens, parents, leaders, and the camp speaker as Mark and I finish a board game with Daniel and take turns packing.

Sixty-six of us are driving three hours northwest of here this weekend for a youth group fall retreat. There is a van crammed with food, a bus filled to capacity with students eleven to nineteen years old, several other vehicles, and a slew of cheerful leaders looking forward to connecting with our teens. I can’t wait.

In a lull of packing and details, I grab my Bible and journal and curl up beside the kitchen table. In between the cell texts and checklists, I want to meet with God. I’m reminded of a story in the Old Testament during the ancient time of Moses and the Israelites. The nomadic group of two million former slaves were fleeing their old life in Egypt and encountering the God of their ancestors, who was wooing them in Red Sea crossings, food from the sky, glowing firewalls, and other miracles.

The Jewish desert tribes were learning about their Creator, and remembering how to worship and follow him. At the edge of the campground, Moses did something fascinating. Setting up a tent, he called it the Tent of Meeting, saying that anyone wanting to talk with God could enter.

What grabs my attention today is that the text doesn’t tell us if people went into the tent. I imagine — I hope– they did, but it doesn’t tell us. I know that on other days, the desert Jewish bedouins pleaded with Moses, “YOU go inquire of God,” and they hung back.  

My prayer this weekend is that we would meet with the God of the world in life-changing ways.  I know that we can create the setting and make the plans, but encountering God is something that happens when we are willing to step in.

Like the Bedouin outside the desert Tent of Meeting, Lord, I want to step into intentional times of meeting with you, of worshiping you, of getting to know you, and of hearing from you. I want that for myself, for my teens and leaders at camp, and for my online sisters and brothers here too. 

And at the kitchen table with my Bible, journal, and pen, it can start now. I confess that all too often I see the invitation and yet walk away, assuming I’ll come back later. Not today. Right now, I’m stepping in, choosing quiet, and slipping into the tent. Join me?

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  1. Unknown on November 7, 2015 at 3:28 pm

    Good one. It takes being intentional and drawing nigh unto God. I see a lot of the modern church still wanting others to do it for them. To speak to God on their behalf because it's easier. To let a preacher tell us what God is saying in His word, even knowing that Christ was the perfect sacrifice and made a way for us to enter into relationship with our Father anytime. Thanks for the wonderful reminder. I'm praying for you and your group.

  2. TC Avey on November 9, 2015 at 3:57 pm

    What a great post. I had never thought of that before? Did they go in to meet with God or did they rely on Moses?
    I had realized they often asked Moses to speak with them for them, but I hadn't ever really wondered if they went into the tent themselves.

    Thought provoking.
    God bless. Praying your group has a life changing encounter with the Creator of everything.

  3. Jennifer Dougan on November 10, 2015 at 12:16 am


    Isn't it exciting that — you're right– God made a way for us to approach his throne with confidence through Jesus! I love that we can talk to him, and not through another person.

    Thank you for praying for our youth retreat. It went really well!

    Jennifer Dougan

  4. Jennifer Dougan on November 10, 2015 at 12:18 am

    Thanks, TC. Isn't that an intriguing pondering? I wonder too. I assume they went in. I hope they did.

    The youth retreat went really well, and we're so thrilled about that. Now we just pray for ongoing neat things to happen in teens (and us adults') lives too.

    Have a great week,
    Jennifer Dougan

  5. Linda Stoll on November 10, 2015 at 11:07 pm

    Yes, yes. Slipping into the quiet place as often as I can, Jennifer. Thank you for this gentle reminder …

  6. Cheryl Barker on November 12, 2015 at 4:47 am

    Hope you all had a great weekend, that all met with God and that you all enjoyed sweet fellowship with Him and with each other. Continued blessings on your ministry, Jennifer!

  7. Jennifer Dougan on November 13, 2015 at 3:47 am

    Nice to have you here, Linda. Me too– seeking out and choosing those quiet moments.


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