Do you ever feel like God is leading you on a detour? Perhaps you think He’s taking you on a longer road than necessary, an out-of-the way route. Rather than a shortcut, maybe it seems like He’s actually taking you on a “longcut.” Well, I have news for you. Perhaps that’s exactly what He’s doing.
The other day I was reading in Exodus and I came across the following verse:
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.” (Exodus 13:17)
Do you see what God did here? He actually took the Israelites the long way around the Philistine country, through the desert road that led toward the Red Sea. Now, certainly part of the reason for this was to show His final act of deliverance of Israel in the miraculous crossing of the Red Sea. But here in 13:17 we see also a glimpse into the mind of God. He doesn’t want to lead His people the shortest way, because He knows their frailties and weaknesses. He knows their fears. It’s actually for their own sake that He leads them the long way. He realizes that if they face the intimidating Philistines already, they might well be tempted to just give up and go right back to bondage in Egypt. And God didn’t want that for them. He’d done too much for them already.
But maybe the Israelites didn’t quite see it that way. Maybe some of them wondered why God was leading them toward the very formidable barrier of the Red Sea, rather than the nice road straight through Philistine country. Maybe some of them grumbled that God was leading them into a trap, or at the very least, that He wasn’t taking them the best way. We don’t know if any of them had these thoughts, because the Bible doesn’t tell us, but it’s entirely possible. We do know that when they realized the Egyptians were pursuing them and that they were trapped by the Red Sea, they cried out to Moses in despair. It was here, at their lowest point, with no possible way out of the situation on their own, that God intervened in a way that could only have come from Him. He parted the Red Sea so the Israelites could cross on dry land, then drowned the entire Egyptian army in that same body of water. The Israelites need not fear the Egyptians anymore.
So what does that mean for you? Are you tempted to believe God is taking you on a route that’s more difficult than it needs to be? Like He’s not leading you on a direct path through your difficulties? Take heart. God knows what He’s doing, and He’s doing it for you. He knows your frailties and fears, and He acts accordingly. He’s looking out for your better interests, and perhaps He sees something you don’t- If they face war, they may change their minds and return to Egypt. In other words, if you face something overwhelming, perhaps you’ll give up the Christian walk and return to the slavery of sin. And God doesn’t want that for you. He’s done too much for you already.
Like the Israelites of old, God stepped in to save you. You were trapped, not by the Red Sea and advancing Egyptians, but by the deadly effects of your own sin. You could in no way save yourself. All efforts to do so would be in vain. And it was there, at your lowest point, with no possible way out of the situation on your own, that God intervened in a way that could only have come from Him. He sent His own Son to live a perfect life in your stead, then offered Himself on the cross as the sacrifice for your sins and mine. When He rose, He defeated our final enemy, death. We need not fear sin, Satan, or death anymore.
When it seems God is leading you on a detour or a longcut, remember Israel of old. Trust that God knows what He’s doing, and He’s doing it with your eternal good in mind.
Photo is Roundabout detour by Chris Dlugosz