“When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, ‘If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.’ So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea…” (Exodus 13:17-18)
As Moses led the people of Israel out of captivity and towards the promise land, the path they took was not the shortest or the easiest. In fact, God deliberately led them the long way around.
After living under abusive oppression for 430 years, I’m sure taking the long way wasn’t their preference. Remember, the Egyptian regime they were fleeing was the same one that once decreed that their firstborn sons be murdered — not to mention the forced labor and regular physical beatings they were subjected to.
But God had their purpose in mind, not just their preference. The extra miles weren’t God’s punishment. They were His provision. The Israelites were multi-generational slaves, not warriors. Had they gone the way I’m sure they wanted to go, they probably wouldn’t have had the courage to continue. They weren’t yet prepared to face the enemy by going through.
Purpose Over Preference…God’s way doesn’t always seem like the best way — that is, it’s not always defined as the shortest, most comfortable, most convenient way. Many times, God’s way is none of those things.
Instead of leading you the short way to what you want, God will often lead you the long way to what you need. It may not be the easiest, but it will be the most purposeful.