Have you ever been in that situation where you feel stuck between a rock and a hard place? Have you ever been in that worst case scenario that you never thought would happen? The children of Israel were faced with this very dilemma, wondering where do they go from here? As they were stuck with the Egyptians on one side and the Red Sea on another, God revealed Himself and showed them a few principles we can glean for our journey with God. The passage is from Exodus 13:17-22.
God’s not interested in short-cuts.
17 When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter.
The scripture clearly indicates that there was a shorter path, an easier way perhaps and yet God avoided that road. When it comes to discipleship, there are no short-cuts. God is not always going to make the path “easier”. In our prayers, we often plead with God to remove the hardship or we question His heart like the Israelites did, wondering why He brought them to the wilderness. What we must realize as His followers is that the best route for God’s glory to be displayed is not always the shortest.
God’s way is most often through the desert or wilderness.
18 So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea.
Does it ever seem that you are lost in the wilderness, alone, hungry and thirsty? And then things get worse? Some of the Israelites may have felt the same way asking God why He brought them out to the wilderness simply to die. It wasn’t enough they reasoned to just die in Egypt but that now they were about to die in the wilderness at the hands of the Egyptians. It is the wilderness that we come to realize our own neediness and utter reliance upon God. The wilderness shows us our frailty and we succumb to the elements without intervention. The Children of Israel were led around by the desert road toward the Red Sea so that they would realize their only hope was God. With Egyptians on one side and the Red Sea on the other, God was their only chance. Has God brought you to a place where you are asking; “Where do we go from here?” The desert place in the place where we see God’s provision and salvation on a daily basis. It’s also the place of miracles and wonders. Even Jesus spent time in the wilderness.(Matthew 4:1)
God never ceased to lead them.
22 Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.
Often when times get difficult or hard, we feel as though God has deserted us. This is not the truth, nor could it be father from the truth. God has promised to never leave or forsake us. In this case when the Children of Israel were faced with seemingly insurmountable problems, they had the assurance that God was with them. It may not be so easy for us to see God in our lives as He doesn’t always use a cloud or pillar of fire, nonetheless, if we look, we will most certainly see God’s leading and the tools He uses to direct us. Take some time and look around today. Even if the situation seems like a “no win”, watch for the Lord. The desert can definitely produce mirages and cause us to doubt but God promises to lead us through the wilderness into the Promised Land.
God is out in front.
22b “…in front of the people.”
When times get difficult our tendency is to look back instead of looking forward. Even looking forward can seem like ‘death”, but the Israelites needed to stay focused on where God was. He was not back in Egypt. He was in front of them. As much as they complained and wanted to go back, they had to keep looking ahead. God was not going to take them “back” He was going to take them forward. As a disciple, you may feel distressed, worried, fatigued, hurt, doubtful and even on the brink of despair, but God is out in front. Lift up your eyes one more time in prayer and see His salvation. Cry out to God in hope and faith and let Him lift you up. Reach forward toward the finish line and fall into the arms of your Savior! Where do you go from here? Forward!