Some of my dear friends used to live in Newport, Oregon. And I loved to go visit them. If the demands of life were crowding in on me and I was short on time, I would jump in my car and barrel up Interstate 5.
But if I had a few extra days and needed to unwind a bit, I would head up the coast on Highway 1. It wanders and meanders up the coast with amazing views. That route can’t be taken at 70 miles an hour and more than likely, you need to leave both your hands on the wheel.
But at the end of that two- or three-day trip, I would find myself refreshed. The forced “slow down” helped me.
I have been studying the first part of Exodus. Pharaoh made impossible demands on the children of Israel (“more bricks, less straw”) and their situation became totally unbearable. God sent Moses to lead them out of Egypt. And right there at the beginning of their journey is a life changing principle.
The principle is: God chose the route for them to take from Egypt to the Promised Land, and He chose a “scenic route!”
Look at Exodus 13:17-18: “When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistines country, though that was shorter. For God said, ‘If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.’ So, God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea.”
God LED the people on a “scenic route.” They could have taken the road along the edge of the Mediterranean Sea and that trip would have lasted less than two weeks. But no, He had something else in mind. And their “scenic journey” took over 40 years!
Why would He do that? Because He knows best. God knows what His people need. He knows how we learn and grow. He is fully aware of how we process things and what we need to add to our faith. He chooses the route for our spiritual edification. It may be much longer, more challenging, more difficult and even life altering. But it is His choice to make.
Like so many others, I have been struggling with the “scenic journey” we all seem to be on. With all the medical uncertainties, social pressures and political upheaval, I am vacillating between anger and sadness. I have been pouting, whining and bothering those around me.
And then I think. I am on a road that leads to my sanctification (becoming more like Christ). And I am not in charge. My heavenly Father has the road map and He gets to set the GPS. My job is to follow the route He sets out.
And, I am pretty sure that the trip will be much easier if I just keep my mind and heart set on Him (Col. 3).