I can often feel just like the children of Israel—hemmed in as it were—by vast wilderness. The view, either in front of me or behind me, is extremely hindered by rock, and the obstruction brings great discouragement. I am not sure why the Lord saw fit to “lead me out” and my natural mind begins to question His judgment. I am tempted to feel that I must know what lies beyond that boulder if the Lord wants me to continue to walk in that direction. Isn’t it my right to know what lies beyond? Why does He hide, so thoroughly, the one thing I desire to see so fervently?
I hold in my possession a treasure the children of Israel, at that time, did not have—their own glorious history and promising future—in writing. God took it upon Himself to author a beautiful and intricate story—a picture book—full of illustrations I can read in order to understand my God better. He took time, hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of years, to express His character and His sufficiency. He took time, in order that I might believe that what He says He will do—He will do—no matter what lies in between the promise and its fulfillment!
God chose the wilderness path out of Egypt, specifically, with Israel in mind! He chose the rocky, dry ground and the treacherous landscape. I must believe, with all my heart, that God has chosen the path I walk upon as well—that He purposefully sets the rocks in front of me! I must believe that what He ordains is for my protection! Exodus 13:17 states that after Israel's miraculous freedom from their bondage in Egypt, “God led them not through the land of the Philistines, although it was near.” Did you catch that "not"? Although they would have reached their destination quickly and would have had a pretty clear idea of where they were going, God deliberately placed them on a road to nowhere—“peradventure the people repent [change their mind] when they see war, and they return to Egypt.” The Lord wanted His children to “make it”…He knew their weak, human hearts and in His loving faithfulness He made it literally impossible to do what their fears would compel them to do—turn around and go back!
As alone and deserted as they felt—Deuteronomy, chapter one, declares that those feelings were far from reality. The Lord wanted to fight for them. The Lord wanted to be their sole protector. He wanted them to believe that He would bear them, “as a man doth bear his son.” He promised to go before them “to search out a place to pitch [their] tents in” and to always show them which way to go. The rock that appeared to block their vision, should have been of no consequence. If only Isreal would have remembered to look up toward the cloud by day and the fire by night—if only they would have been faithful to keep their eyes upon their Guide—there would have been less murmuring and more obeying. Deuteronomy 1:32 reveals God’s disappointment in their behavior: “Yet in this thing ye did not believe the Lord your God.”
We must believe our God! But can’t you just feel their frustration?—God promising deliverance, and yet, only finding another rock beyond the one you just struggled to walk around, and then another rock and another and another! Where is the open road? Where is the evidence that God is leading you to where He said you were going? Have you felt hemmed in of late? Are you, after climbing that last mountain, exhausted and weary, now discovering a body of water too deep to swim? Behind you, a demonic army, taunting and ridiculing your faith—before you, an impossible sea—dark and foreboding—mocking every miracle you have ever witnessed!
Here is where the story must come alive and our confidence must be strengthened! Here is where we must believe! Don’t listen to the growing noise of the enemy—God promises to defend you and has already blinded the “Egyptians” (Exodus 14:20)—the reality of their presence should never influence your faith. And don’t look at the vast impossibility slapping its waves up on the beach—God has already promised you a land flowing with milk and honey on the other side—if He has promised you something it is already yours!
I believe there is purpose in every move our Lord makes, and I am striving to see His mighty hand at work within every “dead end”. At times my trial can seem eternal—but it is not. One second the children of Israel were staring in dread at the Red Sea, the next, they were walking upon dry ground. A roadblock will always remain until it disappears. That is almost too simple to be profound—but read it again—for it is profound! Your trial will be visible until God sees fit to remove it. The obstical is not the problem, it is only a catalyst to reveal a miracle. Once it is time, your trial will vanish—no matter its size or complication—and there will be no question as to who removed it. Its existence is there to prove God’s supreme power over all things. I love the simplicity of Psalm 77:19 “a pathway no one knew was there.” There is a road you cannot see—it is there—believe that today!
I like to think that my troubles tremble when they see the Lord. If I could just picture that when I tremble at my troubles!
“When the Red Sea saw You, O God, its waters looked and trembled! Your road led through the sea, your pathway through the mighty waters—a pathway no one knew was there.” Psalm 77:16 & 19 (NLT)