𝗪𝗵𝗲𝗻 𝗣𝗵𝗮𝗿𝗮𝗼𝗵 𝗹𝗲𝘁 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗽𝗲𝗼𝗽𝗹𝗲 𝗴𝗼, 𝗚𝗼𝗱 𝗱𝗶𝗱 𝗻𝗼𝘁 𝗹𝗲𝗮𝗱 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗺 𝗯𝘆 𝘄𝗮𝘆 𝗼𝗳 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗹𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗼𝗳 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗣𝗵𝗶𝗹𝗶𝘀𝘁𝗶𝗻𝗲𝘀, 𝗮𝗹𝘁𝗵𝗼𝘂𝗴𝗵 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝘄𝗮𝘀 𝗻𝗲𝗮𝗿. 𝗙𝗼𝗿 𝗚𝗼𝗱 𝘀𝗮𝗶𝗱, “𝗟𝗲𝘀𝘁 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗽𝗲𝗼𝗽𝗹𝗲 𝗰𝗵𝗮𝗻𝗴𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗶𝗿 𝗺𝗶𝗻𝗱𝘀 𝘄𝗵𝗲𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝘆 𝘀𝗲𝗲 𝘄𝗮𝗿 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗿𝗲𝘁𝘂𝗿𝗻 𝘁𝗼 𝗘𝗴𝘆𝗽𝘁.” 𝗕𝘂𝘁 𝗚𝗼𝗱 𝗹𝗲𝗱 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗽𝗲𝗼𝗽𝗹𝗲 𝗮𝗿𝗼𝘂𝗻𝗱 𝗯𝘆 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝘄𝗮𝘆 𝗼𝗳 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝘄𝗶𝗹𝗱𝗲𝗿𝗻𝗲𝘀𝘀 𝘁𝗼𝘄𝗮𝗿𝗱 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗥𝗲𝗱 𝗦𝗲𝗮. 𝗔𝗻𝗱 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗽𝗲𝗼𝗽𝗹𝗲 𝗼𝗳 𝗜𝘀𝗿𝗮𝗲𝗹 𝘄𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝘂𝗽 𝗼𝘂𝘁 𝗼𝗳 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗹𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗼𝗳 𝗘𝗴𝘆𝗽𝘁 𝗲𝗾𝘂𝗶𝗽𝗽𝗲𝗱 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝗯𝗮𝘁𝘁𝗹𝗲.
Have you ever felt like life takes you on the long, scenic route when you really just want to get there? I’ve felt that way with marriage, motherhood, spiritual growth, and contentment. I’ve been frustrated and felt like God ignored my cries of “How long, O Lord?”
Too many times, I overlooked God’s presence and provision; I was impatient and short-sighted.
I thought God’s goodness would be evident when I got to my final destination, whether it was a godly marriage or finally becoming a mother.
But He was working through the journey; the long way wasn’t the wrong way. It was God’s wise, loving plan that I needed those desert seasons to learn what the Israelites learned when they left Egypt and before they arrived at the Promised Land. When we read Exodus 13 through 18, we can see many of God’s plans for taking the long route.
𝗚𝗼𝗱’𝘀 𝗽𝗿𝗲𝘀𝗲𝗻𝗰𝗲 𝘄𝗮𝘀 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗺.
In Exodus 13:22, we see God’s presence was with the Israelites as a cloud by day and a pillar of fire at night that “did not depart from before the people.” We wish God’s presence was so obvious in our lives! But even then, the Israelites grumbled and complained. They got hungry, thirsty, and tired – so much so that they wanted to go back to Egypt!
As believers, we have a Savior who came to sympathize with our weaknesses (Hebrews 4:15), who died and rose again to reconcile us with a holy God. God has gifted us the constant presence of His Holy Spirit (1 John 4:13) to comfort us and His written Word to guide and equip us (2 Timothy 3:16-17). We often fail to rely on these valuable tools on our long journeys. In the Old and New Testaments, God reminds us again and again that He is with us (see references below).
We can endure because of God’s presence.
𝗚𝗼𝗱’𝘀 𝘄𝗮𝘆 𝗽𝗿𝗼𝘃𝗶𝗱𝗲𝗱 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗽𝗮𝘁𝗵 𝘁𝗼 𝘁𝗿𝘂𝘀𝘁, 𝗵𝘂𝗺𝗶𝗹𝗶𝘁𝘆, 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗱𝗲𝗽𝗲𝗻𝗱𝗲𝗻𝗰𝗲.
If the Israelites’ path to the “good life” was direct and easy, it’s likely they would’ve become self-reliant and forgotten God’s role in freeing them from the Egyptians. They struggled with this anyway, as would we – our memories are short! They were terrified when they realized the Egyptians were pursuing them (Exodus 14), and bemoaned out loud they’d rather live as slaves than die in the wilderness.
God answers in Exodus 14:13-14: And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”
They had to trust God’s path and plan, even though they were backed up against the Red Sea with seemingly no way out. And even further in Exodus, we see God’s provision of water from a rock and literal daily food from heaven in the form of manna.
Instead of self-reliance, the Israelites needed to rely on God for their safety, guidance, and literal daily bread.
𝗚𝗼𝗱’𝘀 𝗽𝗼𝘄𝗲𝗿 𝘄𝗮𝘀 𝗱𝗶𝘀𝗽𝗹𝗮𝘆𝗲𝗱 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗛𝗶𝘀 𝗴𝗹𝗼𝗿𝘆 𝘄𝗮𝘀 𝗿𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗮𝗹𝗲𝗱.
Only God could part the Red Sea to allow the Israelites to cross on dry ground, then close up the waters over the Egyptians who were pursuing them. In Exodus 14:25, the Egyptians with their muddy chariot wheels saw the impending doom and said, “Let us flee from before Israel, for the LORD fights for them against the Egyptians.” I love how the same language is used here by the Egyptians (“the Lord fights for them”) as Moses told the Israelites!
And God predicts the outcome (which He already knew), that His power and glory would be displayed. In Exodus 14:18, God says, “And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I have gotten glory over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.”
The Israelites, too, were shown God’s power and glory: Israel saw the great power that the LORD used against the Egyptians, so the people feared the LORD, and they believed in the LORD and in his servant Moses. (Exodus 14:31). The Israelites saw God’s power and in turn, their awe and faith were strengthened.
If we begin to see our “long paths” as purposeful, it can lead to deeper trust in God’s loving leadership.
He doesn’t delay us to torture us, but to grow our dependence on Him and to strengthen our faith and endurance. He proves Himself over and over again, and like the Israelites, we can say:
The LORD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation;
this is my God, and I will praise him,
my father’s God, and I will exalt him.
Who is like you, O LORD, among the gods?
Who is like you, majestic in holiness,
awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?
Read some or all of the passages below on God’s presence.
Deut. 31:8, Psalm 23, Psalm 46:1, Psalm 73:28, Psalm 139, Isaiah 43:1-3, Matt. 28:20, Hebrews 13:5-6
Think of a time when God seemed to take you the “long way.” How did He grow your faith and display His glory in that season? I’d love to hear your answer in the comments below.