Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Short Cuts Aren't Always Best

I'm thankful to serve a good, sovereign God that always knows best for His children. I'm also thankful that, even though Romans 8:28 is a huge encouraging verse, we find the same theme of God working goodness for His children throughout the Bible, not just in one isolated text. 

Journey with me back to Exodus 13. The children of Israel have just undergone their first "Passover" experience and are being rushed out of town...for the Egyptians now fear that Yahweh will kill them all unless they let His people go. (Exodus 12:33) We know the story - Moses and the children of Israel escape, make it to the Red Sea, walk across dry ground and begin their trek to the Promised Land of milk and honey. But tucked away amidst all those events is Exodus 13:17-18. Have you ever wondered why God led Israel to a dead end at the Red Sea? It may not be for the reason you think. 

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.
(Exodus 13:17-18 ESV)

Notice that God chooses to take His children the LONG way. No short cuts here. The verses are easily overlooked but they are dripping with God's goodness. Here's a God who isn't just concerned about taking His people to the Promises Land. He's concerned about the journey as well. God, in all His wisdom, has come up with the best route possible - the route that will serve Israel the most! Rather than exposing them to a potential fearful situation, He sovereignly redirects them around the Philistine area. It would be easy for Israel to complain about the longer route (and they do!) but just imagine the alternative. God knows what's best, even when it contradicts our own wisdom. The shortest route was clear. But the best route was needed. 

It's verses like this that encourage me during times when I'm unsure of why God is leading me in the direction that He is. While I don't have the advantage of seeing the "big picture" for my story, being able to see the "big picture" of stories like this help me with my own situations. I can rest in the assurance of God's goodness, knowing that God has me on a path that may not always include the shortest route to His goals for me, but it certainly includes the best route for me!