“Then it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, ‘Lest perhaps the people change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt.’ ”Exodus 13:17
We all need to take detours from time to time.
When I was in college, at Andrews University, the bridge crossing the St. Joseph River was condemned and abruptly closed one day causing a fairly large number of people traveling to and from Berrien Springs, on old US 31, to take a fairly lengthy detour. Some of the faculty and students literally had their commutes to and from campus double, or more than double, in length.
I forget how long it took for them to replace the bridge, one year, maybe two years. During that time the old bridge was still in place and people could walk or ride their bicycles across it but no one could drive across, it wasn’t safe.
Detours are an inconvenience but most of us will agree that when the added time and distance ensures that you don’t take a forty foot plunge into a river that it’s worth it.
God led the children of Israel out of Egypt via a longer and more lengthy route through the wilderness. Why choose this route? Philistines.
The Philistines were a warrior people that had invaded the land of Canaan during the time that Israel had been in Egypt and the Israelites were not yet ready to face the kind of fighting they would have to meet if they entered Canaan through the land occupied by the Philistines. So God’s plan was to go into Canaan along the wilderness route and avoid the Philistines.
Sometimes it feels like our lives are stuck on a detour. Getting where we’re going is taking a long time and the miles are so slowly passing by and with every twist and turn we don’t seem to be getting any closer to our destination.
It’s easy to become impatient, frustrated, and disappointed when life feels like that but did you ever think that just maybe this detour is taking you around trouble that’s too much for you to tackle?
Our perspective on life is extremely limited. There’s only just so much that we can see and anticipate the rest is left to guess work and ignorance. God isn’t so limited. He can see life’s road from beginning to end and he’s able to chart a course that will give us the best combination of challenges and smooth sailing to make the route both interesting and survivable.
If we want to follow God’s route we just have to learn two things. First to listen as he gives directions and second to be patient and content as we navigate the detours.