CHOOSE THE ROAD YOU TRAVEL WISELY
“When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” 18 So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of Egypt, ready for battle. 19 Moses took the bones of Joseph with him because Joseph had made the Israelites swear an oath. He had said, “God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up with you from this place.” 20 After leaving Sukkoth, they camped at Etham on the edge of the desert. 21 By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. 22 Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.” (Exodus 13:17—22 NIV)
God called Moses to lead the people of Israel when Pharaoh finally let them go. Though God called Moses to lead his people, He was actually involved in leading them out. God’s leaders are those who themselves must yield to God’s leading. It is so easy for those in leadership to lean on their experiences and know-how. Leaders are people under God’s leadership and must be willing to follow His leadership.
I noticed here that though Moses was called a leader, he must learn submission to God’s leading. Moses himself wrote that it was God who led them. God knew how to guide and lead them. God did NOT lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said that if they faced war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt. So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea.
Sometimes, people think that when God delivers them from something, all things will be easier and more comfortable. God knows best. God knows how much fight we have in us. God knows our weaknesses and strengths. God knows our season and knows how to guide and lead us until we get where we need to be.
As a leader of his church, I am reminded today that even though I have been called to lead his people, I must ultimately be someone whom the Spirit of God foremost leads. The people are not my people but his. I must also not be afraid if God decides to lead people in a way that I am not expecting.
Sometimes, I want to lead people in an easier and shorter way to make things easier for them. But there are times when God wants to take people in a way they have not expected. God knows that sometimes, the shorter, comfortable way can be fatal. Though it may be shorter, people are not developed to be able to face and handle the battles ahead of them.
God led the Israelites the shorter way. God led them by the desert way toward the Red Sea. The desert way may be rough and long, but God led them there for a purpose. The purpose is to develop the Israelites to be able to fight battles and be ready to face any obstacles ahead. Sometimes, the shorter way may be the longest way. People often think taking the easiest, shorter way is better than going through the desert way. I must learn to trust God’s leading even if it involves the desert way. I learned that I would rather be with God in the desert way than be in the shorter way without him.
God led his people to the desert way, and the Israelites went up out of Egypt, READY FOR BATTLE. Moses, while taking care of Joseph’s bones, remembered what Joseph told him, saying, GOD WILL SURELY COME TO YOUR AID. God did, and he led them out of Egypt. He led them through the desert way. In the day, the LORD WENT AHEAD of them in a PILLAR OF CLOUD TO GUIDE THEM. And by night, the Lord led them in a PILLAR OF FIRE to give them light. And the most assuring thing for me is this, “Neither the PILLAR OF CLOUD by day nor the PILLAR OF FIRE by night LEFT ITS PLACE IN FRONT OF THE PEOPLE.
God LEADS, God GUIDES, God PROVIDES, and God always ABIDES when he leads me. This alone reminds me that when God leads, he always promises his presence, even if he leads me the desert way. The shorter way may look appealing, but it may also be deceiving. The desert way may look rough and unappealing, but where God is is better than where He is not.
As a child of God who is leading others, I am so grateful for this reminder that God is the ultimate leader, and I must always learn to listen to him as he leads me. I cannot afford to think I am just leading people. I must always remember that I, too, must be led by his presence. I will continue to remind myself that GOD LEADS, GOD GUIDES, GOD PROVIDES, AND HE ABIDES ALWAYS WITH ME. I will also remind myself that it is better to be traveling toward my goals via the desert roadway with God then the shorter way without God.
Jesus, you have been good to me throughout my life. You have been faithful and always abiding with me. Please continue to teach me to trust you as you lead me. Please help me to trust you even when you lead me through the desert way. Please teach me to follow your lead and learn your ways as you lead me in life. Please keep me from being deceived into thinking that the shorter way is always the best way to go. Teach me the fear of you and give me a heart that is sensitive to your leading. Teach me to discern your leadership and guidance. Amen!