My husband likes to use the Waze navigational app on his phone even when we know where we’re going. Waze not only tells gives you directions, it tells you when there is a traffic snarl or some kind of hazard ahead. Recently when road construction caused traffic back-ups on the way to church, Waze navigated another route for us which my husband estimated saved us at least an hour, if not more.
I’ve thought how nice it would be to have a heavenly Waze. We do in a sense. The Bible tells us some things to come and gives us commands and principles which, if we ignore, will land us in trouble.
But in God’s mercy and wisdom, He doesn’t tell us everything about our journey through life. Probably because we would want to avoid some of the troublesome paths He wants us to go through, or we’d face the future with fear.
I’ve often paused over a passage in Exodus 13:17-18a which says that when the children of Israel finally left Egypt, “God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near. For God said, ‘Lest the people change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt.’ But God led the people around by the way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea.” God took them the longer route because He knew the shorter one might be too much for them. That implies that they should have been able to trust Him for their experiences at the Red Sea. Instead, when the people were caught between the Red Sea and Pharaoh’s army, they feared and complained. In fact, fear and complaining characterized the bulk of their journey to the promised land, despite all the wonders they had seen in God’s deliverance of them from Egypt.
Why would God take them that route? One reason is mentioned in Exodus 14:4: “I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord.” The Egyptians weren’t the only ones to know Who God was through how He dealt with Israel. When they finally got to Canaan, the Israelites and their God had a reputation. Rahab had come to believe on the Lord due to all she had heard.
Not to speak irreverently, but it’s almost as if God had in mind something like, “Watch this: I am going to show you something fantastic!” And eventually the Israelites did see the marvels of the Red Sea parting so they could walk through on dry ground – after complaining about the fix they were in first. It was the same story when they needed food and water and when they should have entered Canaan the first time. God knew what was ahead, He had a marvelous provision in mind, but instead of waiting in anticipation to see what He would do, they doubted Him and complained.
I can’t point my finger at them because I am too much like them. I’d use a heavenly Waze to avoid anything unpleasant. I have a tendency to complain and a love of ease and comfort. I’m not generally adventurous. I don’t usually approach problems with excitement, just waiting to see what God is going to do this time.
God takes us through rough paths to display His glory, to increase our faith, to show us His love, to manifest Himself to others through us. May God give us grace to approach hazards and delays with the eye of faith, looking forward to how our Heavenly Father is going to work things out.
If we could see, if we could know,
We often say.
But God in love a veil doth throw
Across our way.
We cannot see what lies before,
And so we cling to Him the more
He leads us till this life is o’er,
Trust and obey.
From “If We Could See Beyond Today” by Norman Clayton