Christian Devotionals

"There Ain’t no Easy Way Out"

How we must annoy the Almighty. When God tells us to “Go”, we question Him, come up with excuses and wait. When He tells us to “Wait”, we get upset, grow impatient and go. Is it any wonder why our lives are filled with frustration and our efforts result in failure? Here we have the omniscient God - who holds both the present and the future in His hands - eager to guide us to success, but we choose to launch out on our own because we’re motivated by feelings and desires. Time and time again, our feelings steer us wrong and our desires get us into trouble. Waiting on God, however, will never get us into trouble. It may be difficult, but it’s the right thing to do. When the Master does give us the command to “Go,” we can confidently advance knowing that He is with us and nothing can stop Him.

Often God’s call to wait is based on timing (it’s not the right time) or our lack of readiness to do the job (materially, physically or spiritually). In Andrew Murray’s book “Waiting on God,” he reminds us that an army would never advance into enemy territory without the needed store of provisions, clothing and ammunition. He goes on to write, “It is no otherwise in the Christian life: day by day, at every step, we need our supplies from above. And there is nothing so needful as to cultivate that spirit of dependence on God and of confidence in Him, which refuses to go on without the needed supply of grace and strength.” For an army to rush off into battle without the proper provisions would be disastrous. They need to wait and be re-supplied before engaging the enemy. The same holds true for the Christian. It’s crucial that we wait until we receive God’s instructions and provision.

Unfortunately, God’s people have a long history of jumping the gun and looking for the easy way out. We love instant results, paths of least resistance and shortcuts. Because of this predictable tendency, the Lord will sometimes take the choice away from us. He may choose to execute His own plan without giving us the opportunity to blow it for ourselves. I for one wish that He would do this more often. A prime example of this is in Exodus 13 and 14. Here we have Moses leading the Israelites out of bondage in Egypt and the Lord guiding them to a place where they’d be hemmed in by the desert and the sea. Right on cue, Pharaoh’s army closes in for the kill, the Israelites cry out against God and the LORD comes through to part the Red Sea. This dramatic and spectacular rescue served several purposes. For one it showed Pharaoh, the Egyptians and all the surrounding peoples that the LORD is the one true God. Secondly, it showed the Israelites that they served an almighty God – One who can be trusted: “And when the Israelites saw the great power the LORD displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant” (Exodus 14:31).

The parting of the Red Sea isn’t news to any of us, but something else happened that often gets overlooked when we talk about the Exodus. The Red Sea escape route – be it miraculous and the stuff legends are made of – was not the shortest and most direct escape route to the Promised Land. The LORD – in His infinite wisdom – did not lead the Israelites to the road that directly connected the land of Goshen (their place in Egypt) to Canaan (the Promised Land). If you look at the ancient map, this road – called “The Way of the Philistines” – was a short and straight shot out of Egypt. Why did God send His people the long way? We find our answer in Exodus 13:17-18:

17 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.

What many don’t know about this shorter road to the Promised Land, is that it was also a major trading route that was heavily guarded by a string of Egyptian fortresses. The fleeing Israelites would have encountered armed resistance all along the way. God knew that they weren’t up for the task. They weren’t trained for battle and their hearts weren’t right with God. At the first sign of trouble, the Israelites would have turned tail and returned to Egypt. Sure the LORD could have wiped out these Egyptians and provided easy passage, but He didn’t want to pamper His children. It was faith building time and God’s stiff necked people also needed to learn obedience. He would use trials and uncertainty to build trust and character. This would require some waiting in the wilderness.

Maybe you’re in such a place right now. You think you know what you want and how to get there, but God isn’t giving you the green light (He might even throw up a roadblock or two). Rather than become angry with your Maker and force something to happen, try being still and wait on Him. God’s ways and timing are perfect. Your way may just be “The Way of the Philistines,” a seemingly shorter route that has despair and defeat written all over it.

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