Ever since childhood, I have loved maps. Before the age of smart phones and portable DVD players, I would sit in the car and be entertained by reading maps. I know - I sound like a complete nerd, but I loved looking for the best routes from town to town, or the landscape surrounding certain cities. It just fascinated me!
This love of navigation certainly transcribed into my adult life, both geographically and metaphorically. I am a planner and I like to know where I am going with my career, personal life, and spirituality. I set myself a goal and I embark on a quest to get to my destination. I look for the quickest, most direct route, and with my eye on the prize, I give it all I’ve got!
But life usually does not feel quick or direct. Most of the time, our journeys to our goals feel slow, painful, and never ending.
The Hebrew people understand this all too well. When we look at the exodus from slavery to the Promised Land, we tend to think that God took them on the most direct route. Sure, there was the odd sea parting, and some eventual wandering in the wilderness. But on the whole, the route He led them on was pretty direct, right?
But this is not the case. If you look at this map, you can see on the left side “Land of Goshen”, where the Hebrews started out, and Israel is on the upper right. And there was a direct road called the “Way of the Philistines” which connected the two places. Like our Interstates and Motorways, these roads were designed for speed and efficiency, and served as operational routes for trade and travel.
But, if you look at the red line on the map, this was not the direction that God led them. The bible says, “When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” (Exodus 13:17, NIV)
As a main route, the road was heavily guarded by the military. Like our main roads, law enforcement protected and patrolled these highways. If the Hebrews used this road, if this was the direction they would have taken, the very same people who had held them captive for centuries would have been breathing down their necks every step of the way. This would have not been emancipating but intimidating! If conflict had arisen, fear could have easily gripped them, causing them to bolt in the opposite direction – right back into slavery!
So, God in His wisdom took them on the road less travelled. He ordained a direction that seemed long, but it was safe and would be the most successful road to the Promised Land.
I’m sure I’m not alone if I say I often feel like I am walking along the road less travelled. And sometimes the hardest thing to do is to let go of the plan I have set out for my life and allow God to navigate me. When I see what I think is the quickest way to get to my promises, surrendering to Him is the last thing I want to do.
We all get tired of the wait. We all get frustrated, exhausted, and disappointed. We want results and we want them right now!
But what if God is leading us on a safer road to our dreams? Rather than exposing us to disaster, what if this road protects us from attack or intimidation? What if God knows the things that will terrify us and He wants to shelter us by leading us on our own red line? What if this crazy long path we are currently treading is actually the most successful road to our dreams?
His ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8). He wants to give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4). Let’s choose to trust Him.
So let’s put down the map. Let’s stop being a backseat driver. Let’s quit yelling at our Driver. Our ways may sound good to us, but God is going to successfully take us to our promises!