The Long Way Around

Bible Reading: Exodus 13:17-22; 14, 15:1-21

"...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..." (13:17-18). When they came to the Red Sea and saw that they were trapped between the water and the Egyptian army, they cried out to God and complained to Moses. God displayed his glory by dividing the waters, allowing all the Israelites to walk safely across on dry land, and then sweeping the waters back over the entire Egyptian army. "...And when the Israelites saw the great power the Lord displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant" (14:31). The nations heard the news and trembled at the God of Israel.

When God leads me the long way around, may I trust that he knows, better than I, what is best for me. Though I am "armed for battle" (13:18), God knows that I am not yet prepared for what I might face if I took the shorter, easier road. I might shrink from the challenge ahead, return to my bondage, and miss out on the richest blessing God desires to give me. On the shorter road, others may not see God's power displayed through my circumstances so they can know that he is God (14:4,17-18,31; 15:14-16). As I journey on the long desert road with him, may I be strengthened and equipped to achieve God's goal in God's timing.

When I see difficulty coming, may I hold on to my faith and continue to walk "boldly" (14:8), instead of pleading, "What have you done to us? ...Leave us alone" (14:12). May I "do just as I am told" (14:4 NCV) and trust God to defeat the "army" that threatens to destroy me.

Sometimes, circumstances do not allow me to move forward. Time just seems to stand still, and I'm stuck in my troubles for what seems like forever. All I can do is stand. God whispers "Do not be afraid. Stand firm" (14:13). I want to plunge ahead and force my way through the trial as quickly as possible, but no amount of human effort can break past the barriers in my way. I am tempted to turn and run as fast as I can, away from the trial, or to sink to the ground in gloom and despair.

I will face my fear. I will plant my feet firmly where I am, and wait, expectantly, for God's deliverance (14:13). I will stand still and let the Lord fight for me and save me from destruction (14:14). I will rest, knowing God is in control. I "need only to be still" (14:14).

When God finally tells me to "move on" (14:15), I will start moving in the direction he reveals. As I step out in obedience, I will trust that THEN he will "divide the water" (14:16) and make a clear, dry path for me to follow.

At the end of the dark night, when I stand on the shore and look back at where I have been, I will marvel at what God has accomplished. As I see his glory and power displayed through my hardship, I will put my trust in God, who patiently led me, and in his servant leaders, who faithfully instructed me. At last, I will realize the wisdom and reward of taking the long way around.