Under the Stars

There’s nothing like jumping in the car with a bunch of mates to head off for a camping trip!
After packing our gear, we leave our heated houses and our fridges, washing machines, coffee machines, microwaves, couches and cosy bedrooms to venture outside into the sometimes harsh and unforgiving environment. And we do it all because we choose to!
It’s when your sitting under the stars around the camp fire having a laugh while gnawing on a slightly charred sausage that you realise it’s not the comfort of a place that makes it enjoyable, but who you are with that counts. 
The Israelites had just returned from 70 years of exile, and as Ezra read out the book of the law they began to discover that God was leading them to go on their own kind of camping trip:
‘As they studied the Law, they discovered that the Lord had commanded through Moses that the Israelites should live in shelters during the festival to be held that month’ – Nehemiah 8:14 (NLT)
The people had just returned to their homeland and began to settle into their homes – and now God required them to leave their places of comfort and go camping!
‘So the people went out and cut branches and used them to build shelters on the roofs of their houses, in their courtyards, in the courtyards of God’s Temple, or in the squares just inside the Water Gate and the Ephraim Gate’ (8:16)
The amazing thing is, rather than complaining about their discomfort, they actually celebrated the occasion – as they realised that it’s not where you are or what you have that matters, but who you are doing it with that really counts:
‘So everyone who had returned from captivity lived in these shelters during the festival, and they were all filled with great joy! The Israelites had not celebrated like this since the days of Joshua’ (8:17)
There are also times that God will call us to leave our comfort zones to go ‘camping under the Stars’ with Him. 
Our satisfaction or contentment can never be found in what happens on the outside, but only in what happens on the inside – because nothing will ever replace the joy that comes from camping under the stars with the One who made them!

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