Jesus said, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come for you.” (John 14:18)
I’ve been preaching through Exodus for a bit now. We came to a text this last week that has become profoundly meaningful to me right now with some things going on in our life.
A quick story about how we ended up in Exodus. Several months ago, I was finishing up a series in Ephesians and began to pray, “Lord, where do you want us to go next? What do you want to say to your people next?” He took me to Exodus and said, “Here.” And so here we are, working through the story of God’s redemption of his people.
But what has become apparent to me is that, although he is speaking to his people through the book of Exodus, he has a lot to say to me as well. So this last week, we ended chapter 13. The people of Israel had just come up out of slavery and have begun their trek through the wilderness. And the interesting thing that I noticed right away (Exodus 13:17-18a) is that God took them the long way.
Why would he do that? I mean, haven’t they been through enough? 430 years of slavery wasn’t enough that now they have to take the long way?! What’s up with that?
One of the things I had to see from this is that sometimes the long way is the only way.
Sometimes God has to take us the long way so that we learn to depend on him.
I said that to my congregation this last Sunday and it’s only just now that he is showing me how very much this applies to me as well. See, my family and I are in the long way right now. It’s been a really hard few years for us; failed church plants and jobs and pain and anger and all kinds of crap.
But I know that God is faithful. I don’t always understand it or like it and I guess I’m not supposed to all the time. He’s God and because he is, that means he gets to decide. He gets to decide what is best for me. He gets to decide what it is that we need to go through so that we can be made into the image of his Son. I have to keep reminding myself that Jesus took the long way also. He could have saved his people another way. He could have found another way to offer salvation. But he chose the long way of humility and service and pain.
There’s a lesson there for me. Maybe for you too.
Maybe we need to realize that there’s more to life than getting from point A to point B. Because what’s the good if we get to point B but along the way we’ve lost our souls? We need to see and trust that God’s wisdom is best and maybe, just maybe, we should trust him.
There are three things drawn from Exodus 13:17-22 that we saw this last Sunday in worship. I want to share them with you in hopes that someone who reads this needs to be encouraged like I do right now. Go get your Bible and read Exodus 13:17-22. As you do, I want you to notice three things.
1. God is always guiding his people. Even when the way is long or we don’t understand, trust in his sovereign hand. He is always guiding his people.
2. God is always faithful to his people. Joseph believed the promises of God to his ancestor Abraham that one day his people would be free. So Joseph believed that God is faithful. Maybe you need some Joseph faith today. He who called you is faithful (1 Thessalonians 5:4). Hold on to his faithfulness.
3. God is always present with his people. The Israelites had a pillar of cloud and fire to know that God was always there. We have something even better. We have the Holy Spirit (John 14:16-17). Also, go back to the top of this article and read the verse at the top. God is always present with his people.
Jesus has come and has gone before us. He promised his Spirit would live in us and with us forever. He will not leave us alone.
You need to hold on to that on the long way to freedom.
Soli Deo Gloria!