I’m sure that it will not take you long to picture one of those moments. You could be in one right now. It’s when you don’t know what’s coming, and you desperately want answers to whatever confusing situation you are in. The descriptive word that comes to mind is “suffocating”. Is it a confusing relationship, a demanding job, or a pending decision? What is that thing that makes you feel that pressure of uncertainty?
It’s not hard for us to imagine what Israel must have been feeling when God was bringing them through “the roundabout way” (Exodus 13:17-18). There was a way that was quicker and that made a whole lot more sense. By the way, it didn’t have a Red Sea at the end of it.
The reason it’s not hard to imagine is because that is often our normal. Doesn’t it feel like there is often at least one thing going on that you just wish was less complicated? Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just cross it off your list and move on to the next thing? But I’m convinced that is not the way of our God. He is always up to a roundabout something.
And generally, I’ve come to believe He is not trying to get us to a point so that we can look back and see all that we have accomplished. He is a whole lot less focused on the destination than we are with our outcome addicted tendencies. Rather, it’s the journey that matters, and the lessons of dependence and intimacy gained along the way. Since the devastating sin that separated mankind from God at the beginning, God has been writing a script of restoration and reconnection.
If I could give you one “in the moment” tip it would be this: acknowledge that we serve a God who takes us on a roundabout way for His purposes and not ours. If we are able to do this, it will reset our trust back in Him rather than in unanswerable circumstances. It will also remove our sights from goals that we imagine are the most important thing, and put our gaze back upon God.
We long for Peace, and think arrival will get us there. Let’s not forget that Peace does not come by “getting there” – Peace is a person. Ephesians 2 tells us that peace is only in Jesus Christ.
So today, enjoy the roundabout. Don’t avoid it, bash it, or try to fix it. Just embrace it, believing God is doing things that could not otherwise be accomplished. May we trust Him rather than doubt Him, and find satisfaction in His way rather than recommending our own. Typically, that never goes well anyway.
Matt Newman is the Community Team leader at Mosaic. He and his wife, Martha, chase two energetic preschoolers around Springdale.