I’m Terrible with Directions
Posted on May 17, 2016
I love reading the Old Testament. Reading these ancient writings helps me to understand who my ancestors were and what their faith looked like, but it also gives me a deeper perspective on the character of Yahweh. I learn so much about who He is, His heart and His commitment to His people. I see how my God still works in the lives of His people today as He did in the days of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses and how it all parallels to my life and my walk. I see that His character is consistent throughout history all the way through the present. Today, as I was reading Exodus, I became very aware of how the LORD is working similarly in my life and in my current journey as He worked in the lives and journey of the Israelites while he led them out of Egypt. Perhaps, He’s working the same way in your life, too.
When the LORD led the people out of Egypt, Exodus 13:17-18 says, “When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them along the road to the land of the Philistines, even though it was nearby; for God said, “The people will change their minds and return to Egypt if they face war.” So He led the people around toward the Red Sea along the road of the wilderness. And the Israelites left Egypt in battle formation.”Picking up at verse 20, it says, “They set out from Succoth and camped at Etham on the edge of the wilderness. The LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to lead them on their way during the day and in a pillar of fire to give them light at night, so they could travel day or night. The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night never left its place in front of the people.” When I came across this passage, I stopped reading my bible and just paused. There was something that was suddenly pouring over my soul as I pondered this. Though, I had read over this passage in the past, today, it landed on top of me like a boulder, keeping me very still.
As I thought about the passage, I found a few things very interesting. The LORD knew that the road that was near was not the way for the Israelites to travel, although, it seemingly made sense for the people to take that route. It may have been easier, too. No, He was leading them into the wilderness and out to the Red Sea. I don’t know about you, but if I’m trying to get out of dodge, heading through the wilderness and then to the sea seems like a dead end to me. Frankly, it spells disaster in my finite mind. But God, who is infinite, knew better. He knew that the battle the Israelites would face on that road, would cause them to change their mind and go back. The LORD was trying to free them from slavery, not make them run back to it. He had a great land prepared for them. However, the Israelites didn’t know this. They were in battle formation and were ready for what might come their way. Little did they know He was leading them away from a battle and taking them in a completely different direction, one that was going to require obedience and trust. Another interesting point in this passage is that the LORD led them as a pillar by day and by night and led them the way they should go, but the pillar never left its place in FRONT of the people. The LORD was always out in front of them. He was never behind them or among the group going with the flow of the people.
No, He was out in front and He stayed there.
This made me look at my own journey and all the moments that just didn’t make sense to me and still don’t at times. I thought about how I’m currently not working (a decision my husband and I made voluntarily) but not sure what I’m supposed to be doing with all this free time. When we decided that I would stop working, I was convinced that the LORD would use all this time to do His work through me. I daydreamed about spending my time working with the church or the local food pantry during the day. I had hopes of working with the youth and meeting up with women from my church to fellowship and minister to. I assumed that my free time would be filled with ministry and volunteer work until I got pregnant and became a mommy. Then my life would be raising my children. It’s what made sense to me. Just like the Israelites, I was in battle formation. I was ready for it! Bring it on! I didn’t know that I was being led away from the battle and into the wilderness.
After six months, nothing has gone according to what I had expected or what made sense as to what I should be doing with all this free time. There’s no volunteer work, no ministry, and after almost a year of trying, there’s still no baby. I tried making these things happen, but I found only closed doors. All I can see right now is vast land in every direction, but have no idea which way to move. It is one of the most frustrating places to be, it’s incredibly disheartening and at times, devastating. I have been angry about it, cried, kicked, screamed and grumbled at the LORD. However, none of that seemed to do any good or get me anywhere. Recently, I’ve wondered if I should go back to work because it’s felt like my staying home is for nothing. But deep in my heart, it doesn’t feel like the right thing to do either. It makes the most sense, but something in my heart tells me not to, that there is something on the other side of this. As I read this passage today, I realized that maybe, just maybe, I am being led through the wilderness and not on the road leading to the Philistines. Suddenly, I have peace about my situation for the first time. I’ve been given a reminder of who God is and who is leading this thing. If the LORD led the Israelites through the wilderness and never left His position of being out in front, then I need to believe that it is the same with His leading of me. I have to believe that He is out in front and sees the bigger picture. But admittedly, it’s hard. It’s so hard. Nevertheless, as I read about the ancestors of my faith and see the character of God and His commitment and love for His people, I am comforted by the fact that He never left them, even in their grumbling. I trust that He hasn’t left me. I just need to be still and let Him lead.
We have all stood in the wilderness at one time or another. Maybe you’re in the wilderness right now, but you think you should be wearing your armor, ready for battle and nothing is happening. Perhaps, you’re on your way to the wilderness and don’t know it yet. Maybe you expected things to be different in your life by now and nothing seems to be working the way you wanted it to and you just don’t understand. Truth is, there is a possibility it could get even harder or maybe you’re on your way across the Red Sea. Remember this, cling to the promises of God and the character of God and trust that He is leading you. Be obedient. He is never without a plan. Sometimes the hardest thing for us humans to do is to grasp the truth that we don’t know the best way. He does. We are terrible with directions. If there is one thing to learn from this passage about the God we serve, it’s that He never leaves His post out in front. He is leading and though we can’t always see where we are headed and don’t know how this chapter ends or if it’s even started, rest assured, HE IS IN FRONT AND HE IS LEADING.
- Next s