So it happened, when Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, even though it was nearer; for God said, “The people might 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; the sons of Israel went up in battle array out of the land of Egypt.
Some of us lead what we can call a “round about” kind of life. We get from point A to point B, and God is totally faithful to complete that journey for us. It is not an issue of whether we eventually arrive. The issue we experience is how we go about getting there. After reaching the goal, we may turn back and see that the path there was a winding, twisting mess. We might survey this journey and wonder why that line does not look straighter. This may especially be the case when the road is paved with struggles and heartache. It can be too easy for us to say how we might have mapped that way better. The problem is that we simply do not know enough to conclude that any other way would have been more appropriate.
Reading today’s scripture, all I can think is how good our God is. Although his deliverance is always complete, He knows how skittish and fickle the human heart can be. It was his desire for the deliverance of Israel to lead them to the promised land. However, God knew that the people always had the free will to respond incorrectly to whatever they encountered and end up back in captivity. He could have taken them on the short road and left them to possibly make the wrong decision. His diverting them down the long road was about only one thing: safeguarding their hearts. God wanted to see his people reach the goal, so He made the way safer for them. In their eyes, the long road may have seemed like the wrong one. Had they known what He knows, they would have thanked him for his mercy.
There is no part of the Lord that desires our failure. He is for us and not against us. Although He gives us free will to choose as we please, that does not mean that He does not take steps to guard our hearts during the process. He is merciful and gracious enough to step in, but it often is the case that it appears to be the total opposite to us. We must trust that if we have asked for God’s direction, and if we trust him to lead us along, then we must trust in the path on which He sets us. Let our confession be that we trust him completely to guide us along the right way. Father, thank You for directing us with kindness and mercy as we continue to be sanctified for your glory.