The scenic route
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 (New Living Translation)
Have you ever taken a trip, the scenic route? I was on a trip not too long ago, and tired of traveling the same route over and over as I had for years, I decided to go by way of another road — the “back roads.” Now, while this may not have been the most direct route, I did hear and see things that I would not have experienced along the freeway. I heard cicadas singing. I saw turtles taking leisurely strolls across the road. I even had to stop at four-way stop signs in the middle of rural towns in Georgia — you know, those towns with more character than businesses. It was absolutely an amazing adventure, and I would have missed those experiences had I taken the fast track — the freeway.
Robert Frost once wrote a poem about “the road less traveled.” The Israelites had not read that poem before they struck out on their faith journey with Moses and God. The story as told in Exodus gives a reason for the path taken through the “wilderness” — the “back roads” on their journey to the promised land. As the story relates, the people were not ready for facing trauma of war in their fragile post-slavery state, so God led them on “the road less traveled” — the scenic tour. During this journey, they learned to trust God, to depend on God for their immediate physical needs, and they learned to trust Moses as their leader. Although the journey was not the most direct route to their destination, it was the best for building their character and faith.
There is an old Chinese proverb that says, “The journey is the reward.” This life is a journey. For some the journey is long; for others, far too short. God was building character in the lives of the Israelites as they learned to trust God through the difficulties and trials of the “scenic route.”
What is God trying to teach you on your scenic route?
Rev. Jan McCoy is the associate pastor of Covington First United Methodist Church in downtown Covington. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.