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This past weekend my wife and I were out on a double date with a couple that happens to be two of our best friends (actually they are more like our siblings).  While on the way to Dave & Busters we engaged in an interesting discussion about life’s journeys.  Through this discussion my buddy asks a rhetorical question that caused me to think, because I could more than relate, It was simple and yet profound.  The question was “why do I always have to take the hard route”.  The context of this question was related to his work history.  He has had to deal with hard managers and when elevated to management he has dealt with harder upper management and some bad employees. He looked at his journey and said “why is it never simple or easy”.  I can hear churchy people thinking to themselves ‘nobody said the road would be easy’ while some elitists would just question his work ethic or decision making ability.  Knowing this person for over 37 years I can say definitively that he never expects things to be easy nor in this case made poor decisions.  What is interesting is that his decisions are usually spot on; to the point of introducing me to an angel God loaned to me and allowed to be my wife.

Having given his question some thought, I thought about my life in the same way.  I can’t say that I have always made the best or wisest decisions, but I have seen what I thought were poorer decisions that others have made and felt mine weren’t so bad.  I found that I too had the same question, and really this question in my heart was to God. I wanted to know why it seemed I always had the hard route and not the easy one.  I don’t want to lay in bed daily and have someone dump buckets of money on me so I could live lavishly.  Nor do I want a route in life that causes me to miss out on what could help me. Some of life’s curve balls just don’t add up in my mind.

As God always does, He gave the answer.  I started reading the familiar story in Exodus the 13th and 14th chapters.  All of you Bible scholars already know I am speaking of the story of the exodus of the children of Israel from Egyptian captivity.  The interesting thing is that this time I started reading from a different place.  I always read past this, but this time it was as if God grabbed my head and made me focus on Exodus 13:17-18, After the king had finally let the people go, the LORD did not lead them through Philistine territory, though that was the shortest way. God had said, “If they are attacked, they may decide to return to Egypt.” So he led them around through the desert and toward the Red Sea.  The Israelites left Egypt, prepared for battle.

I can’t tell you the number of times I prayed for simple solutions or for jobs and or situations to just work out the way I wanted them to work out only to have things seemingly go in what I would presume is a less than favorable direction.  But when I read that God did not lead them to the shortest way, I became intrigued.  This meant two things; first off God acknowledged there was a shorter way.  Maybe you are not like me but I always thought God’s way was the shortest way to anything. I grew up hearing a lot of faith and prosperity teaching which can give the illusion that Christians are always given the fast track.  I thought that if I were going in the direction God was taking me in then that was the shortest and or easiest way.

Here is the kicker, God took the children of Israel on a longer route because on the short route they might have seen some adversity and elect to go back to captivity in Egypt.  For them captivity was familiar and familiarity can sometimes be perceived as safe.  Here is the funny part; the children of Israel “…left Egypt, prepared for battle” (Exodus 13:18).  These folks were prepared to do battle but God didn’t even allow them to go in the direction of a possible battle even though they were already prepared for battle.  Why would God do that? There are four reasons, the comfort of captivity, God allows evil people to come in our lives, God has to eliminate the enemy and lastly the children of Israel needed to learn when to move forward.

This was just an introduction.  The next blog will deal with the “Comfort of Captivity”. If you complain or know someone who is a complainer don’t miss this series of blogs.

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