Recently I ran across this verse and it spoke to me in a way I had never noticed.
Exodus 13:17 (NIV) 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.”
God is leading Moses and the Israelites out of their Egyptian captivity to the promise land. There was a short and more direct route through the Philistine country to their destination. And yet, God does not lead them that way. God knew that if the children of Israel had to go to battle immediately they would give up their journey and return discouraged to Egypt.
The rest of this story is even more interesting to me. Instead of going through the Philistine country God leads them to the Red Sea. All the while the Egyptians are coming up fast behind them. God then parts the Red Sea allowing the Israelites to flee and in turn destroying the Egyptians.
So catch this, God leads his people the long way out of captivity to a dead-end street so that he could do a mighty work in their lives. I don’t know about you, but I find this greatly encouraging. Many times I have found my life on a path that was not very direct (maybe all the time). Often I have found myself heading in a direction that seemed like a dead-end. There is no counting how often I have asked, “God, what are you doing?”
The reality is – God often uses indirect paths and dead-ends to accomplish his will in our lives. Sometimes our second chance story is simply God leading us through the desert so that we do not get discouraged in Philistine country.