Saturday, March 7, 2009

God's "Around About" Way

Have you ever felt like God did not know what He was doing in your life? Have you been in a situation where you asked, "What in the world are You up to, Lord?" Do you know what it feels like to follow the Lord, only to find yourself in a desert place? I do, and I bet many of you do as well. Whoever said following Jesus with your wholeheart would be easy?

I am reading in Exodus right now, and today I came across a most interesting passage: "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.' So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea" (Ex. 13:17-18). I call this God's "Around About" Way. What a lesson for us: At times God does not lead us to take the shorter or easier path, but rather He leads us through that which will be difficult, yet best for us.
You mean sometimes what is best is difficult? You bet! How is silver perfected? Through heat, trials, and hardships. But at the end of the day, the silver reflects the image of the one refining it.

As the perfect Parent, God knows what path is best for us. It might not be the one we would choose. It is likely not the path we prefer. However, it is God's path. It is God's will. And it is best for us. But only God knows this, and we must trust His divine wisdom. If we knew ahead of time that His path would take us through a desert, we might not agree to go there. Therefore, sometimes God withholds from our understanding the full knowledge ... until we are ready to possess it.
Every earthly parent can relate to this way of working. Often, especially in the early years, we know better than our children what is best for them. We may direct them toward that which will be more difficult, but that which will benefit them most for the long term. If they will trust our wisdom, they will be better off. But if they buck our will and go their own way, they will suffer.
The same holds true in our relationship with God. Even when His will is not easy, we can trust that it is best. This is why it is so important to have an accurate understanding of who God is. I am convinced nothing is more important in our overall spiritual development than having a deep conviction about God's true nature. No topic is more worthy of our study than the attributes of God! When we are going through difficulty, our understanding of God will either make or break us.

When God led me to leave a most wonderful pastorate of 17 years, little did I know it would involve a seven month season of testing, desert dryness, and waiting. I hate too wait. I do not like uncertainty. I struggle when the bank account gets smaller and smaller. On the other hand, I want God's perfect will. I want to know Him better. I desire to become conformed to the image of Christ. If this involves testing, desert dryness, and waiting, then so be it.
When I surrendered my life and heart to Christ, in essence I was saying, "Lord, I am yours. Do whatever it takes to make me like You want me to be."

God led His people out of Egypt and through a "around about" way to the Promised Land. This path was not what they expected, but it was the best path for them. God knew that if they faced war, they would turn back to Egypt.
In the same way, God knows your heart. He knows which path is best for your development, even if that path is not the one you would chose or prefer. Here is where you must trust Him. You must know that His will for you is good, acceptable and perfect (Ro. 12:1-2). Are you willing to trust Him even when He leads you through an "around about" path?
I would love to hear what your experience has been in regards to the topic of this blog. Feel free to share it in the comments section below.