I used to shy away from the Old Testament; it felt like rules and laws that didn’t apply to me, like weird battle stories and prophesies I didn’t understand. But the more I’ve dug deep into those first stories, the men and women that fill Genesis and Exodus and even the prophets, the more I see myself in their wanderings and wonderings and everyday life.
Take Moses. Oh I could go on and on about this guy, how he let his temper get the best of him (you should see me when I discover the ants have taken over our precious cashews or organic honey AGAIN), how he kept trying to remind God that he wasn’t good with words, that he wasn’t good enough (hello, this is me, every day). God sends him Aaron, and together these two guys help show the Egyptians and the Israelites God’s mighty power. It takes 10 plagues and the death of every firstborn from among the Egyptians and finally Pharaoh lets all the Israelites go. It has been hundreds of years and generations of waiting for God’s promise to take them to the land flowing with milk and honey. The stories have been passed down, and forgotten by many who needed the reminder themselves during the plagues that God was coming to their rescue. It would make sense for them to get there quickly, after all of that waiting! But God had a different plan. Check this out, from Exodus 13:17-18:
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.
Does it feel like you are taking the roundabout way? Maybe your life has turned out exactly how you thought it would, but mine certainly hasn’t. I over analyze things anyway, but turning 30 in exactly 46 days has given me lots of reasons to reflect on my life and especially the last decade. I thought as I graduated college that I knew what was coming. I was going to do a year of overseas work to get “missions out of my system”, and then start a “normal” job and get married and do all the things you usually do in your 20s. Well, if you know my story, you know that I didn’t actually go overseas for that year, but it took 5 years and lot of lessons and stretching and amazing experiences and ones I would rather forget some days, before I actually moved overseas. The marriage and the dream job didn’t happen, but a lot of things did that I never planned on, like graduate school and an office job with an organization that I absolutely love, and living in the South and learning a new culture and meeting people who have forever impacted my heart.
I sort of feel like I’m wandering again a bit, taking the less-than-direct way of getting wherever I’m going (which feels a little fuzzy too). But here’s what God promised the Israelites, and I believe He gives this promise to us too. At the very beginning, He showed them the way, knowing which way they needed to go. He gave them a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night so they could keep putting one foot in front of the other on the path He marked out for them. Later on, when Moses like most of us, was ready to be done, questioning the way, God said to him, “I will personally go with you, Moses, and I will give you rest- everything will be fine for you” (Exodus 33:14). We have God’s presence with us, even if we feel like we are taking the roundabout way. And our God takes us by the hand and leads us, because He has a purpose in it all.
Have you seen God take you along the roundabout way?