Exodus 13:17-14

Free at last! After 430 years of slavery in Egypt, Pharaoh finally relented and released the Israelites. All that stood between them and the Promised Land was a two-week journey across what has been called the “Via Maris” or “way of the sea.” After all, the coastal highway was the most obvious escape route, nearly a straight shot to Canaan.

But God typically doesn’t take the most obvious and direct paths.

Instead, God rerouted the Israelites south, away from Canaan and seemingly away from his own promise. He led them deeper into the wilderness, in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. He lead them right up to the banks of the Red Sea, even hardening Pharaoh’s heart all over again, ultimately provoking the Egyptian army to follow Israel in hot pursuit. And then, once again, God delivered the Israelites from the hand of the Egyptians. Moses’ staff was lifted, the waters were parted, and the people of Israel walked across on dry land.

But the journey still wasn’t over. For 40 more years the Israelites would meander through the wilderness. Could God have led them straight to Canaan from Egypt? Sure. God can do whatever God wants to do. That’s what makes him God. But God didn’t want to take the direct path. God didn’t want the trip to be free from troubles.

Here’s the takeaway: time and trials are where we learn to trust God. The best fruit takes time to grow. The strongest steel is forged in the hottest fire. When God leads you on a longer and more difficult journey than you anticipated, find comfort in knowing that, while God’s way is not always the most direct way, it is always the best way.

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