Reading maps well is an acquired skill. A wiggly, winding road from point A to point B seems pointless when you could go straight, unless you’re very carefully examining the contours, seeing the numbers increase and realising that going straight would mean ploughing through the middle of a sizeable mountain.
Similarly, the symbols for marshes are also worth learning. (I may be speaking from experience.)
Even so, the Israelites took a decidedly circuitous route from Egypt to Canaan, and it definitely shouldn’t have taken forty years.
It started in this way – with God not leading them on the most direct route, because it would have been through Philistine country (v17).
The Israelites had just done one big brave thing in leaving their captors. Warfare would have crushed them.
Instead, the Lord leads them a little at a time, using a pillar of fire by night and cloud by day (vv21–22). So too in our lives.
There are times when it feels like life is taking a long way round to reach a goal, but maybe that’s because God is delaying us from a fight or an obstacle that we’re not yet ready for.
Like the Israelites, we need to learn to follow God just for the next step, the next day, keeping close to the Lord.
One way of keeping close to God is to keep bringing God into our plans and dreams, talking to God throughout the day.
It means asking God not just, ‘How should I plan the next five years?’ but ‘How can I show your kindness to the people I speak to this afternoon?’
By chatting to God each day, we can listen for the nudges of His Spirit and look for His leading.
A Prayer To Make:
‘Dear Lord, thank You that the Holy Spirit lives within us, guiding us where we should go. May we listen to the whispers of Your Spirit. Amen.’
An Action To Take:
Today, every time you eat or drink something, take the opportunity to pray about your day and listen to God.
Scripture To Consider:
Ps. 23:1–4; Prov. 3:1–6; John 16:7–14; Rom. 8:5–15