1. Trusting God's Lead
God’s direction is always determined by an understanding of our needs and a pursuit of his glory.
Now when Pharaoh had let the people go, God did not lead them by the way of the land of the Philistines, even though it was near; for God said, “The people might change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt.” Therefore God led the people around by way of the wilderness to the Red Sea; and the sons of Israel went up in battle formation from the land of Egypt. -Exodus 13:17-18
When we’re traveling, most of us opt for direct routes. We type the destination address into our phone map and choose the fastest option. The same principle goes for our personal lives. When we want something, whether it’s a job, a relationship or a social position, we don’t like waiting for it. We have dreams and aspirations that we’re sure are good things. We’re confused when God doesn’t allow us to get there right away, when he allows roadblocks to get in the way, or when he leads us along a different path altogether.
In the Israelites’ journey out from their slavery in Egypt, they find themselves led by God along an indirect and, at first glance, very inconvenient path. They are headed toward the Promised Land, which is North of Egypt. However, God doesn’t opt for the direct route. God takes Israel South. Is God leading them off track?
Exodus reveals that God leads the people along the indirect route because he knows the other way would be too challenging. Along the direct route, Israel would have come in contact with and had to fight the Philistines, and God knows his people are not ready to see war. The Israelites need time to develop their character and spiritual maturity. They need time to learn to trust God. So, God leads Israel South, straight to the bank of the Red Sea. God is going to use their miraculous crossing at the Red Sea to develop their faith and trust in him.
Just like the Israelites, God’s Holy Spirit may lead us on along indirect routes as well; but, just as he did with the Israelites, God does so for our good! God knows what we need, and he leads us out of love. He knows the spiritual maturity we need to develop before we make it to the destination, and these indirect routes are often the means of spiritual maturation!
While on Earth, Jesus himself had his own time of preparation. His ministry did not begin until he was thirty years old! At many points before this, Jesus must have sought his Father, asking, “Is today the day?”
Jesus’s life is an example of God’s perfect lead: God’s timing led to the ultimate display of his glory. As Alicia Britt writes in her book Anonymous, “We must hold tightly to the trust that no doubt strengthened Jesus throughout his hidden years: Father God is neither care-less nor cause-less with how he spends our lives.”
We can find hope and encouragement amidst disorientating times by remembering that God’s direction is always determined by an understanding of our needs and a pursuit of his glory. Trust in his wise and loving lead.