It’s been nearly 10 days since President Trump released guidelines asking Americans to “avoid social gatherings in groups of more than 10 people.”
For me, one of the hardest things about staying home is not knowing how long all of this will last. I’m a planner, and my type-A brain can’t help but fixate on the timeline. I’m like a kid in the backseat on a long road trip whining, “How much longer?”
The children of Israel must’ve had the same question while wandering through the wilderness for 40 years, waiting for their Promised Land. The journey from Egypt to Canaan by foot, could’ve taken as little as 11 days. So, why the 40 year journey? The answer comes in two parts:
1) Initially, God took them the long way around on purpose. The shortest distance between two points is a line, yet when God led Israel out of Egypt, He led them away from Canaan and toward the Red Sea.
“When Pharaoh finally let the people go, God did not lead them along the main road that runs through Philistine territory, even though that was the shortest route to the Promised Land. God said, “If the people are faced with a battle, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” So God led them in a roundabout way through the wilderness toward the Red Sea …” –Exodus 13:17-18 (NLT)
Because of the detour, Israel got to see miracles they might’ve missed out on otherwise. They passed through the middle of the Red Sea–walls of water on each side–and saw God deliver them from Pharaoh’s army. They knelt with cupped hands at the Oasis of Marah to quench their parched lips, knowing it was only possible because God had turned the bitter waters sweet. They filled their hungry bellies with bread rained down from heaven and encountered the presence and power of the living God at Mount Sinai.
By taking an indirect route, God revealed Himself and His care for Israel in a way that should’ve caused them to trust Him without reserve. He knew that they would need to trust Him deeply in order to face the enemies ahead and take possession of the Promised Land.
2) While the first (and shorter) delay was the result of God’s wisdom and grace, the second (much longer) one was the consequence of fear and doubt. God prepared Israel for the battles ahead, and then He instructed them to begin the process of taking the territory of the Promised Land.
“The Lord now said to Moses, ‘Send out men to explore the land of Canaan, the land I am giving to the Israelites. Send one leader from each of the twelve ancestral tribes.’
(Moses sends out 12 spies to explore Canaan. They all come back with reports of an amazing land “flowing with milk and honey,” but ten of the spies start to scare people with reports of giants and fortified cities.)
… Caleb tried to quiet the people as they stood before Moses. ‘Let’s go at once to take the land,’ he said. ‘We can certainly conquer it!’ But the other men who had explored the land with him disagreed. ‘We can’t go up against them! They are stronger than we are!’ … ‘We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak. Next to them we felt like grasshoppers, and that’s what they thought, too!’”
Numbers 13:2, 30-31, 33 (NLT)
On the first leg of the journey, God had gone to great lengths to prove both his power and provision to Israel. They were primed and positioned to claim what God had promised. But Twelve spies were sent to scout the land, and all but two came back with reports full of fear and doubt. These two–Joshua and Caleb–were the only people from the first generation that left Egypt who actually got to experience the Promised Land.
I don’t believe that God sent COVID-19, but I do believe He is working in the middle of this situation to prove His power, provision and care for you and me.
In this season, I want to embrace whole-heartedly any detours that are God’s doing so that when it’s time to receive His promises for my life, I will respond with faith and not fear.
Oh God, I believe that You are at work in the middle of this crazy situation. I believe that Your power and Your love are on display, even now. Open my eyes to see what You are doing. Teach me to trust You. May the roots of my faith grow deep into the foundation of Your faithfulness. I don’t want to wander needlessly because of fear and doubt. Help me be like Joshua and Caleb, who received Your promises, because they trusted You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Day 9: Commit to faith over fear today. Decide to trust God, regardless of what you see or how much time passes. Ask God to open your eyes to anything He may be trying to show you in this season.
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