Dead End Paths (Part 4): When God Leads Me In Circles to a Dead End

Freedom!

After years of slavery…oppression…misery…

The people of God were no longer held captive!

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Freedom after being in tight places is so sweet:D  Even animals enjoy being set free!

As He had promised, He had set them free…

  • In spite of the fact that at one point they had stopped listening to God’s promises because their discouragement was great (Ex. 6:9)…
  • In spite of the fact that Moses felt inadequate (he spoke with faltering lips) for the task God had given him to do (Ex. 6:12, 30)

How sweet those first steps must have been that they took out of Egypt!

And they were ready to take them.  The Israelites had enough knowledge to know that the shortest path out of Egypt to the Promised Land that God was going to bring them would take them through territory of another nation that would probably result in battles and war.

So, in Exodus 13:18, it says that they went out of Egypt ready for battle.  They were prepared!

But, God had other plans…

And His plans did not include the shortest path, for He could see past the boldness with which they were marching.  He saw to their hearts, and He knew that if and when they actually faced war, their boldness and courage would evaporate and they would run back to Egypt.  The time would come when His people would be ready for battle…

It just wasn’t right at this moment.

So He chose a path – a longer route – would still accomplish His plans of deliverance, while not bringing His people into circumstances that they were not yet ready to face…

Even though they thought they were.

This longer path that God chose for His people brought them to a very specific spot that He had chosen for them…

A camp along the seaside!

Those first days spent there must have been so peaceful…

Yet, when the word of their travels reached Pharaoh’s ears, he was led to believe that the Israelites were wandering in confusion and circles.

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Sometimes God’s path seems to lead us in circles.

The path that God was leading the Israelites on with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night looked like chaos and confusion to the Egyptians, and so Pharaoh took advantage of the opportunity he saw.  He planned to mount a full scale attack against the people he had just let go.  He was going to get them.

Pharaoh and his army caught up to the Israelites – right at the place that God had directed them to camp.  God’s path became a dead end and a trap.

Unless He helped His people, there was absolutely no way that they were going to be making it to the Promised Land.

Would this be a Day of Disaster or a Day of Deliverance?

As the Israelites quickly assessed the situation and their location, they quickly determined (while at the same time forgetting God’s promises and His previous mighty works on their behalf) that this situation they were in could only end in one way…

It was going to be a Day of Disaster…

Unless God intervened (more on that another day:D)!

As I have been reflecting on this journey that God led the Israelites on as He delivered them from Egypt and prepared to bring to the land that He promised them, God has challenged me with the following lessons:

God is able to accomplish His purposes regardless of all the “in spite ofs” that take place during times of testing.  In spite of Moses’ feelings of inadequacy…in spite of the people’s discouragement and lack of listening to God’s promises…God would still be faithful to fulfill His promises to them.  And He will do the same in my life – regardless of the “in spite ofs” that I am facing or feeling.

God’s path does not always mean that it will be the shortest path.  Just as God knew that the Israelites were not ready for war, even though they marched out ready for battle, He knows the tendencies and attitudes of my heart, and He is not going to bring me into circumstances that I am not ready to face – even though I may think I am ready.  Conversely, He will bring me into situations that with Him I am ready to face – even though I don’t think I am ready.  The key to being able to discern His direction for me is believing that He knows what is best and then trusting the direction He takes me in.

God’s path is not always the straightest path.  To Pharaoh it looked like the Israelites were walking in circles – lost and confused.  Yet, they were being directed by God to take those specific steps.  There are times when to those looking on…and to me…that God is just leading me aimlessly in circles, without any real sense of direction.  Yet, in those aimless circles, He is still accomplishing His purposes – not only in my life, but also in those who also play a role in the path that I am on.

God’s path can lead to what appears to be – humanly speaking – a dead end and a trap that will lead to disaster.  By following God to the place that God led them to, the Israelites found themselves trapped in a dead end, which – humanly speaking – would surely end in disaster and the unfulfillment of God’s promises to them.  They didn’t have a strategy to get free…they didn’t have the resources to get free…they didn’t have the power to get free…they didn’t even have the ability to maneuver to a better situation.  They were stuck.

So often when I find myself trapped and stuck in an overwhelming or dangerous situation where there is no way out, I look back and try to find someone or something to blame for getting me to this point…when in reality, there is no one to blame for I am exactly in the place that God wants me to be…the place that He has directed my steps to…

So that He can unfold His perfect plan in His perfect way.

Even if the path by which He is accomplishing His purposes…

Isn’t the shortest.

Isn’t the straightest.

Leads to a dead end.

In all these things, we can know that God is working for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

He will be faithful to do all that He has promised.

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