“When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near. For God said, ‘Lest the people 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. And the people of Israel went up out of the land of Egypt equipped for battle.” Exodus 13:17-18
The first time I really noticed this verse was a couple of years ago. I felt like I was in the middle of a spiritual battle and I could not understand it one bit. I have walked with Him for years, why would He allow me to have to go through some of the pain that I was going through at the time. The words “God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near… But God led the people around by the way of the wilderness” jumped off the page to me. What? God actually led those Israelites INTO the wilderness when there would have been a shorter route to where they were heading? I wonder if any of the Israelites knew their geography enough that they were wanting to say “Hey Moses, we are going the wrong way!” I wonder if when they got to the Red Sea if they were thinking to themselves, “Uh-huh if you had gone the right way we wouldn’t be hemmed in with this sea in front of us and an Egyptian army behind us!” But God didn’t want them to have the easy way. He knew that the way that they saw as easy would have obstacles too and it would set them up to make an easy retreat too. See God knew that taking them through the wilderness would build some character in some of them AND that it would give Him opportunities to show His glory in ways that the easy way nor an easy retreat would. If the Israelites had never gone by way of the wilderness they wouldn’t have seen the Red Sea parted nor would we have that wonderful story to still be talking about today. God knew that the time in the wilderness was going to give a greater story and give Himself a greater glory!
Sometimes it’s like that for us too. In fact if we let God do the work in us in our wilderness experiences it will always do that. It will build a character in us that we couldn’t get if we always had the easy life and the easy way out. If we lean into Him in those wilderness experiences we will grow in character and in our spiritual lives in ways that won’t happen otherwise. I know that things I have gone through that I hand over to Him, always turn out better in the end. I can’t say that I would want to relive them but I have learned to be grateful for them. When you lean into Him when things are going rough, He can weave something beautiful out of your circumstances. You can know Him on a deeper level and with a deeper understanding than you would ever have known Him if He didn’t have to carry you. And you will have opportunities to give Him the glory.
What wilderness are you going through right now? What pain do you wish He would just take away? What hurt is so deep that you can’t even see what or how He will ever be able to redeem for you? As you sit back and you think of things that came to mind when you read those questions, invite Him in. Ask Him to redeem the pain and the hurt for His glory. Ask Him to lead you and to guide you and to grow you as you walk out the wilderness He may have you in right now. And if you need to, ask Him to carry you. And then know dear friend that one day you will be able to look back and see where He parted some seas for you so you could walk on dry ground. Have faith and keep on walking.