When You Question the Wilderness Road

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.” ¬† So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of Egypt ready for battle.

Exodus 13:17-18 NIV

They didn’t have a GPS or a map so they didn’t know what we know…….

or what God knew.

There was a shorter way to the Promised Land.

And God chose the longer, harder path.

He looked ahead and rerouted the Israelites, knowing full well where it led and how long it would take.

It’s easy to read the verses above and wonder how this could be the decision of a loving Father.

Who purposely sends His children into the wilderness when there’s an easier way?

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I read these two verses about ten times this morning.

“God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country,

though that was shorter.”

The God of the Universe KNEW where He was leading them yet looked at the terrain of the land stretching from point A to B,

and said, “Go this way.”

And “this way” wasn’t the way any of them would have chosen had they been leading.

“This way” felt like the wrong way for forty years.

They grumbled, complained, disobeyed, and kicked their feet in the dust mile after mile,

longing to go back to Egypt but surely feeling it was too far gone as they climbed sandy mountain after mountain and slept night after night under the huge expanse of stars.

God knew the shorter way was easy.

And who doesn’t like the sound of the word, “easy.”

¬†That’s why I have to keep reading when I get to tough verses.

God knew the way, but He also knew His people.

“If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.”

God also knew that easy roads can just as easily lead us back to the very place we started if the enemy pops up along our path.

And who wants to start over?

The way of the world can look pretty attractive when the enemy shows up to fight.

And God knew war would be the very thing that sent the Israelites running.

And running isn’t nearly as easy when we turn around and realize the journey back is long and hard.

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I’m sure the Israelites sat around the campfire and talked about “the good ole days” in Egypt when they had more than just manna to eat and homes to sleep in not tents.

I’m sure they remembered the friends they mingled with there who had even handed them jewels and treasures as they rushed out of town at God’s command.

Looking back always looks better when life is hard today.

But in these moments the Israelites were losing sight of their goal –

the Promised Land –

and in losing sight, they chose bitterness and blame over thankfulness and joy.

I’ve been there.

I’ve been an Israelite in the wilderness, wondering why God sent me this way or that.

I’ve grumbled.

I’ve complained.

I’ve kicked my feet in the dust.

But thank goodness, I didn’t have a map.

Thank goodness God didn’t make the way back easy.

Because I would have set off running…………

so many times………………..

back to something easier.

Because who really wants to face battles?

Today, I’m thankful for the wilderness road.

The easy road doesn’t give you time to cultivate………..

Patience

Hope

Faith

Trust

Forgiveness

Grace

Perseverance

Thankfulness

Humility.

That’s why I’m still on the long road.

I’m still learning.

My road still weaves to the left and the right.

And that’s okay.

Because I know where it’s leading.

And the shorter path would never get me there.

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