Do you feel like you’re going in circles or spinning your wheels?
Have you been waiting on God for something and feel like it’s never going to happen?
Can you relate? I can. And when I was reading through the book of Exodus the other day, the words just jumped off the page and knocked me right between the eyes.
“When Pharaoh finally let the people (Israelites) 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 led them in a roundabout way through the wilderness toward the Red Sea . . .” Exodus 13:17a and 18a (NLT)
Sometimes what God chooses to do doesn’t make sense to us. And, in my experience, I’ve discovered that God usually doesn’t drive in the fast lane. Unfortunately, I’m wound up tighter than a toy in a Happy Meal. I have two speeds – fast and faster. And when things seem to drag on, I don’t doubt that God has good plans for me. I just tend to doubt His way and timing in bringing about those plans.
What are some reasons why God would take us the “roundabout way?”
Here are just a few reasons that I know are true:
1. To develop patience in you and me (James 1:2-4).
This has been a big one for me, since I’m obviously not the most patient person on earth.
2. To strengthen our faith in Him and who He is (Isa. 40:31).
3. To allow for circumstances to get in line (Psalm 37:7-11, Prov. 3:5-6, or just read about Joseph’s life for an example of this principle).
God is not just working in your life but also the lives of others. If someone in your life needs to respond to God or learn to trust Him more, then you may experience the same difficulties and slowness that the other person is facing before you receive the answer you’ve been praying for. The good news is that this does not thwart God’s ultimate good purposes for you.
4. To teach us lessons that can only be learned while “wandering in the wilderness” (Deut. 8:2).
5. To inspire others to trust God by seeing our godly example of waiting and trusting on Him (Heb. 12:1-3, 1 Pet. 2:12).
Some of you reading this may be very familiar with the story in Exodus. If so, you may be thinking; But I don’t want to wait 40 years like the Israelites before entering the “Promised Land!”
This is where a distinction must be made. Not only did God take the children of Israel in a roundabout or longer way, but the Israelites chose to walk in circles as well. Walking in circles is different than waiting on God’s timing. Walking in circles is going your own way and, in so doing, experiencing the consequences of sin in your life. This only slows your journey—making you feel as if you’re spinning your wheels. I wonder how long it would have taken the children of Israel to get to the Promised Land if they had simply trusted God from day one. We’ll never know. But we can know how to avoid spinning our own wheels. Join me as I follow closely to God, so that when you and I go through God’s “roundabout way,” we can enjoy the ride as much as the destination.