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 armed for battle.
– Exodus 13:17
Sometimes the way we go doesn’t make sense at all, but it is God’s provision. And perhaps a grace in helping us become who God created us to be.
I still remember quite well what it felt like to be a young adult in my early twenties trying to figure out the road and way ahead. There were seasons when I could not see well, if at all. There were curves I didn’t expect or know how to navigate. On more than one occasion I found myself in the ditch! And there were glimpses of signposts every now and then that were enough to keep me moving ahead, one step at a time. It was not very pretty. Definitely not smooth. I have the healed over scars to make sure I never forget from where I’ve come. They have become beauty marks.
God has a way of taking us by the road that not only saves us from disasters we cannot see; the journey shapes us for a future that only God can vision.
The Israelites were on the wilderness road a very long time. They started out prepared for war, but the real battle seemed to be the one of surrender, trust and learning to be a community that follows God together. They received miracles, like manna and quail for food. They walked in circles and got sick and tired of the journey. They cried out for water and God provided. They failed and God restored them. When they followed God revealed more to them. They became a holy nation. Not perfect, but an identified people of God with a story of redemption. We are still telling the story!
What about you? Take a moment to look back to where you started. Maybe you will also see how the road by which you’ve come, somehow helped shape you and grow you into the person God created you to be. What safeguards kept you out of danger? What challenges reminded you of God’s faithfulness? What impossible things became possible, even though you didn’t see it unfolding?
I do wonder… as a community of faith, if we too can look back and see how God has shaped us as the body of Christ? How has that journey prepared us to be a reflection of God in the world right now? Is it possible that in this very moment, we also are being led by a road that helps assure we keep moving forward into the kingdom of God?
Whether you are looking back on the road you’ve traveled or wondering about the time to come, rest assured: there is so much more ahead! The same God who walked with you all this time will guide and prepare you for what is to come. You are not journeying alone.
The disciples walked through this week, what we call “Holy Week”, with Jesus…at least up to a certain point. It didn’t make sense. How could a journey to a shameful death ever make sense…
God, thank you for never leaving us on the journey alone. Thank you for guiding us by the road that will prepare us for your future. We trust you completely because you are faithful in all generations! Amen.
Farther Along. Leslie Jordon, Chris and Morgane Stapleton