When Pharaoh finally let the people go, God did not lead them along the main road that runs through Philistine territory, even though that was the shortest route to the Promised Land. God said, “If the people are faced with a battle, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” So God led them in a roundabout way through the wilderness toward the Red Sea. Thus the Israelites left Egypt like an army ready for battle. – Exodus 13:17, 18 (NLT)
Mathematics was not one of my beloved subjects of study in school but a few things seemed to have stuck in my memory. One classic answer from geometry was that the shortest distance from the first point to the second point is a straight line. This holds true when applied to linear, flat, or two-dimensional surfaces like a football field. There are other possibilities when applied to three-dimensional surfaces or on a sphere, such as the surface of the Earth. In this case, a great circle path then becomes the shortest distance.
Life’s journey is a path taken to reach a destination; specifically, a providentially purposed destiny. I am sure you have wondered why the path you are traveling seems to be the longest or even hardest road when your perceived destination appears so near. Spiritually, one reason is that one’s relationship with God is not developed on a linear plane but multi-dimensional.
There were two basic routes the Israelites could have traveled from Egypt to Canaan; short or long. God did not lead them by the shortest or quickest route; rather he took them on what they considered the longest and hard route through the wilderness. The NLT version reads, “…in a roundabout way through the wilderness.” God knew they would have retreated by taking the short route.
Geographically for us, the geometric shortest route is often the most desirable one to take, but spiritually from God’s perspective, the roundabout way is often his short, and ultimately our best, route to take in reaching our divinely desired destination.
God does not always allow us to choose our way with a simple click to avoid toll roads and closed roads, or go by the shortest time or shortest distance. Although it may not be easy, the best choice is simply to trust God for leading you because he has map quested your journey by his GPS – God’s Purposeful System. Most times it is not the shortest, easiest, and most desirable route in our view.
Short routes make it easier for people to retreat or give up. They often hinder an important aspect in our spiritual development and walk with God. God wants to develop our character and a relationship of trust and intimacy with us, which as in any relationship, doesn’t happen on a short run. It takes time to develop real intimacy and genuine trust; it takes trying experiences to develop character. The development of this intimacy with God and a confident trust in him becomes the enjoyment or delight on our spiritual journeys that are designed also to carve our character by the tests that come along the way. If your way seems to be on a hard long road these days, enjoy the journey while enduring the test.
Remember how the Lord your God led you through the wilderness for these 40 years, humbling you and testing you to prove your character, and to find out whether or not you would obey his commands…he did it to teach you that people do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. For all these 40 years your clothes didn’t wear out, and your feet didn’t blister or swell. – Deuteronomy 8:2-4 (NLT)
Rev. Johnson A. Beaven III is pastor of Citadel of Faith Church of God in Christ, 7676 E. 38th St., Indianapolis, IN 46226. Contact him at email@example.com or visit www.johnsonbeaven.com.