“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 battle, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” So God led them in a roundabout way through the wilderness…“
It was wilderness that had them questioning Your goodness, wondering if they would die, and pining for slavery. But they did not turn back. Battle might have turned them back.
It was not even a battle they were entirely avoiding. Israel would battle Philistia for years to come. But they weren’t ready now, and so You took them through the wilderness to give them time.
How many times have I banged my fists against the wall in frustration over how much time we could have saved if You had just led me directly? I have sobbed in agony over lost time, lost plans, roundabout routes. I have glared as I’ve questioned You bitterly: why the detour? Why the mystery? Why not just show me where we’re headed and then take me straight there?!
Maybe it’s because I wasn’t ready for the battle.
Maybe if I’d gotten there earlier, I would have turned back. Maybe the roundabout way was not to steal away my precious time, but to give me precious time before I faced what would come. You give treasured lessons in the wilderness and essential preparation en route. And You know human hearts.
You know when they’re ready and when they’re not. You patiently endure our complaints and accusations all along the way as You gently steer us around the battle that would have destroyed our young courage before it had time to find its footing.
Thank you for giving me time. Thank you for not rushing my unsure soul into the fray. Thank you even for the wilderness, for the roundabout way, because they show that You were taking your time with me – even when I did not realize I needed it.