I hit a really interesting phrase in Exodus 13 today. The Hebrews are leaving Egypt, the land of slavery, and heading towards freedom for the first time in 400 years. As they are marching out, God is leading them where they should go. And in the middle of this amazing story, it says this:
“17 When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.”18 So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea.”
They took the longer, drier, less traveled route to freedom. Not because God was mean, or because He was trying to teach them a lesson, or any other reason like that. It was simply that He knew them. They weren’t ready to face the challenges on the other road. If they had to fight it out, they would run. God, in His love, didn’t want them to run, so they took the long, dry route.
How many times has God had to do this for me? I am following Him somewhere, and I think that because I am obeying in that moment that everything is hunky-dory. (Yeah, I just threw down the phrase “hunky-dory”. Live with it.) We’re thinking we’re pretty amazing because God is going somewhere, and we are following Him, so suddenly we are Super Christian. Then He takes a turn. The road gets hot. There’s not a lot of shade. It’s taking longer than we want it to in order to get where we are going. We begin to question God. Why are we going THIS way? Are we there yet? We realize He hasn’t made a mistake, He really wants to go this route. So then, if we are REALLY spiritual, we might try to guess what the “deeper lesson” is that He’s trying to teach us. THAT’S why we’re on the desert road. So we try to throw some lessons we’ve learned at Him. But we stay on the desert road. THEN we get mad. What’s wrong with Him?
Nothing. He simply knows it’s the only road we can handle. And apparently, we can barely handle it. He is taking a different route based on our weaknesses. Nothing more. We are the reason we are on this road. And it’s okay. He is still leading us, we will still get there. It’s okay.
What is it that so many people say? “It’s about the journey not the destination”.
Maybe that is, when it’s all said and done, actually true.