Where are we going? Why is it taking so long? Are we there yet? All questions that are a natural part of the road trips. When I get ready to take our vacation, I plan our route. With four kids traveling, we will take the shortest route to get there. The idea of a road trip that is any longer than it needs to be is just not appealing. This is especially true after one of our children got very sick on our way to Wisconsin last year. That is just not fun. When our kids ask about time, we use stops as the measuring device. They don’t understand miles, but they do understand that when we stop we will give them a snack. (and they will get maps from the travel plaza)
Life is not that much different. We want to get from one place to the next place without too much discomfort or extra work. There are comfortable situations in life and there are uncomfortable situations in life. It is obvious which one most people will choose and with good reason. However, would your perspective change if you knew the discomfort or extra work brought you closer to God? What if in your pain and struggle you actually found blessing? What if a sudden detour in your life actually was planned, not to harm you, but to keep you within the safety of God’s plan?
We have all been there, haven’t we? It is those times when the phone rings and it is an emergency. I have had those voice mail messages where I have hung up the phone and just stared off wondering what to do. There are some hard things in life and no one is exempt. There are times when we raise our fists to God and ask the hard questions. I have had teenagers ask me the hard questions about why God would not just rescue their friend from cancer. Where does God come in when someone is considering the real deep problems facing people in the world? Those are hard questions to consider. I believe that God gives us some clues to this in the book of Exodus.
It is a familiar story. The Israelites are in slavery in Egypt and Moses comes in to ask them to let the people go. Of course, Pharoah is not convinced until the Passover in Exodus 12. After people die, Pharaoh’s heart softened and they are finally free to leave to the destination God had for them. But, instead of just going straight to the place, God led them on a round about way. It was a bit of a sight-seeing tour, but it had a purpose.
” 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
That is an amazing statement, don’t miss it! God knows what is going to happen. He knows that the Egyptians will chase them and there will be more conflict. He also knows that the heart of the people is fickle and they will quickly cave in. So, he takes them on a journey. A journey that will take them out-of-the-way, but will make it less likely that they will want to go back to slavery. There is a point of no return and God is taking them there.
This might be your reality right now. You might be feeling like you are wondering around in the wilderness wondering where you are headed and how far you have to go. Clearly if everything is easy, we would have less stress, but we might also not rely on God. Maybe if life was laid out perfectly for us, we would be easily swayed away from God as our source of sustenance.
The challenge here is not to overlook the purposes God might have in your struggles. That in fact He loves you so much that He walks with you through these things in order that you grow stronger and closer to Him. He wants to be with you! He wants you to grow in your relationship with Him that no matter what happens you stay the course. He wants for us to be able to say that we might not have all the answers, but we are not going back to slavery! We are not going back to the place where sin was the master of our life.
Rest assured that the plans God has for you will be fulfilled. It just might take a little longer than you might expect. In the end, we know that God’s ways are the best ways. When it doesn’t make sense, we rely on the grace of God to provide hope and perspective.
Has this every happened to you? Have you ever had a time where you felt like God was leading you on a longer path than you though necessary only to find that you were strengthened in it?