I remember one of the first geometry lessons I ever learned in elementary school: the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.
It seemed simple and obvious enough. If you’re at point A and need to get to point B, just choose a straight line.
But somewhere along the lesson I applied these truths to my life journey. And while it is true in geometry, life isn’t necessarily geometric.
I’ve been reading lately about the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt and their journey towards the Promised Land. I’ve long known that the journey took them 40 years (much longer than it ought to have), but I only recently noticed this verse, Exodus 13:17:
When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near. For God said, “Lest the people change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt.”
God kept his people from going directly into the land, his place of promise and blessing for them, because they wouldn’t have stayed and would have chosen to return to the mistreatment of Egyptian slavery instead.
Sometimes the long way around is meant to strengthen our hearts.
I realize that my goal is often to get into the land, but God’s intent is for me to dwell in it. The difference is subtle, but drastically different. I spend a lot of time trying to arrive and God intends to build into me in a such a way as to prepare me to abide.
Abide, not arrive.
The question I need to ask in evaluating the way ahead then is not so much Where is God leading me? but What does God desire to do in me?
It seems God is less interested in merely fulfilling his promises to us than in making us sufficient enough to enjoy them.