I heard a sermon this week surrounding Exodus 13:17:
When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them along the road to the land of the Philistines, even though it was nearby; for God said, “The people will change their minds and return to Egypt if they face war.”
The Lord paved the way for His people’s deliverance. Through a series of plagues, He proved His dominance over the gods of the Egyptians, and so convincingly delivered His people that they left their enslavement with gifts from their captors. Then He led them into the desert.
God could have done the quick thing. He could have sent them straight into the promised land. Or better yet, He could have “miracled” them over there. No wandering, no thirsty people, no golden calf, no battles. But God chose the long way.
In fact, if you look at the route the people were to take over the next 40 years, it looks like my first week in Nashville. It looks like aimless wandering that begs the question, “Why?”
The answer, I believe, is the same one as to why God doesn’t immediately take us where we’re headed in our lives. It’s the same reason, in part, why we have our own difficulty, hardship, and troubles. It’s the same reason we walk the long way with Jesus:
God is just as concerned about who we’re becoming as where we’re going.
He knew the people weren’t ready to be handed the promised land. There was faith to be developed, skills to be sharpened, and truths to be learned. And those are learned on the way.
I have to wonder – in our own long way, are we so disgruntled about not reaching our destination in life quickly enough that we miss recognizing the work God is doing in us right now?