Life never ceases to be confusing! It seems like it has a way of interrupting the calm waters of smooth sailing. It is easy to conclude that these times are unnecessary but God’s Word reminds us that actually nothing is further from the truth. The reality is that God is working in our lives right now and in each moment!
One of the verses that has had a profound impact on my progress as a follower of Jesus has been Proverbs 3:5-6. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5–6) It has been essential for charting the unexpected and overwhelming storms of life. It is a call to trust the Lord to keep his promises when the waves are swamping and filling our boat. Just like the Apostles, who many of them were professional fisherman, experienced on one night with Jesus believing that doom was inevitable. It is Jesus words to these brothers that speaks to us today. “And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.” (Matthew 8:26) The storms of life have a way of bring us to the end of ourselves. But then there is God!
The past Sundays we have been working through Proverbs 3:1-12 in the “Conversations on Trusting the Lord.” This past week looking at “Trust with Conviction from Proverbs 3:3-4 I used the Lord’s working in the Exodus to bring his people to trust Him. I stated, I don’t think that we can know God’s intent for leading them into the desert, but it seems it was to help them to grow in trust.” But I learned this morning in my Bible reading that that statement was incorrect. I read, “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.”” (Exodus 13:17) My application that God wanted them to trust Him with conviction was correct, but God’s intentions are clearly stated.
What is interesting about the Exodus is that the shortest distance (300-350 miles) to the promised land was the “way by the land of the Philistines”. This shortcut would have taken just over a month. God’s route through the desert to the first attempt to enter the promise land took over 1 ½ years. What was the value of the desert wanderings? They were not ready for the challenges ahead. They had not developed an experiential knowledge of God’s dependability and His provision for their needs. The easy way would have prematurely destroyed them.
What is interesting is that the even the year and a half of living off of God’s provision still did not prepare them. So, they wound up spending 40 years in the desert. My point here is that learning to trust the Lord fully takes time living through the situations that are out of our control.
Just remember that the time in the backside of the desert is part of God’s plan for your life. The Bible reminds us again and again, that God has your back. God spoke this encouragement to Joshua, David shares the same wisdom, Moses encourages the next generation and us with these words, ““Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)
-Pastor Joe Parkinson