The Shortest Distance
by Brenda Emmons
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“When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter…So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea.” Exodus 13:17-18.
The Israelites had suffered as slaves under Egyptian rule for many years, being brick makers without much pay and cruel leadership. Under the command and guidance of God, Moses led these slaves out of Egypt and into the wilderness. They were finally liberated and marched out of their slavery with hope and confidence. They had been called and chosen by the one true God and believed they were prepared for anything they would face. The Bible states that they left Egypt feeling as if they were seasoned warriors instead of rescued slaves. They esteemed themselves as ready for battle as they carried bows, spears and slings. But God knew the reality of who they were – freed people with little knowledge, a lack of experience and undeveloped faith. This was the reason God did not lead them on the shortest path – the path that would have only taken two weeks to arrive in the promised land. God knew that they were not prepared for the fight that was most probable on the short path. He took them the long way around to teach them who He was and to build them into the people He wanted them to be.
God isn’t as interested in the shortest distance to His goal for our lives, but rather the best path. This was exemplified in the life of my daughter last year. She had worked for two years getting the prerequisites for nursing school and had accomplished both academic success and favor with the Dean of Nursing. Then everything came to a screeching halt the day she was to begin her clinicals in a nursing home. Something in her past when she was on drugs was revealed and they regretfully asked her to resign from the nursing program. Her heart was broken and her dreams devastated. She had worked so hard and with such success she just knew she was ready to claim her promised land, but God didn’t take her on the shortest route. Through the wilderness she and God traveled, some days battling anger and other days despair. Through the next six months God revealed things about Himself to her and built her faith and dependency on Him. She eventfully surrendered her hurts to God and allowed Him full access to her dreams. The doors swung open and step by step she walked through each opening. He has led her right back to the doorstep from which she was asked to walk away – Nursing School in North Carolina opposed to another state. Her promised land is still in view but what she has learned by God leading her around the desert road is a faith that wouldn’t have been developed on the short path.
I am certain that God positions our circumstances according to our faith. He will not allow us to march into situations with spears, bows and slings when they require something much greater. We all are waiting on something…something that dominates our prayers…something that we will deem as a miracle. Just like the Israelites, if you are not getting where you want to be fast enough, thank God instead of questioning Him for His wisdom and knowledge is so much greater than ours. If we are asking for something that is not in His will for our lives, He will change the desire of our hearts. He won’t leave us in our heartbreak but will move us towards His purpose for our lives.
‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the LORD, ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts’ Isaiah 55:8-9.
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