I am not a huge fan of roundabouts. They are chaotic. No one really knows who has the right of way, so it turns into a free-for-all. Plus, why would any person choose to go in a circle when all they want to do is go straight? Direct is always best…right?
I’m reading through Exodus right now. The Israelites have left Egypt. The Lord has rescued them out of slavery. He has shown himself faithful to these people time and again. The promise made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob has not been forgotten.
They are finally out from under the rule of Pharaoh and begin following Moses as the Lord leads them to the land that has been promised to them. But, along the way they get grumpy and put out with the circumstances. They complain because the water is bitter. They gripe because they are hungry and believe they had it better back in Egypt.
The Lord leads them on the roundabout way through the wilderness. He “did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near.” (Ex 13:17) Rather than a quick trip, they get to take the long road home. Why? Because the Lord was merciful. He was compassionate. He didn’t want them to see war and change their minds and return to Egypt. The chosen route is, without a doubt, the road less traveled. No one chooses the roundabout way on purpose.
As I read, I am often quick to jump all over the Israelites and hound them because of their ungratefulness and lack of faith in a God who brought them out of slavery with an incredible display of his power. It is easy to judge their attitudes and actions from the comfort of my couch, as I read through their story. So what that they journey 40 years longer than expected! Why are they complaining? The Lord never ceased providing for their daily needs. He was always guiding. He was perpetually present. Could they really ask for anything more?!
And it is then that I realize I am no different.
If I take time to sit with this story and wrestle with it…it is not hard to see myself in the actions and attitudes of the Israelites. How often do I grumble when something doesn’t go as planned? How often do I question the road the Lord has me on for this season? How often do I doubt that he will provide the things needed for the position he has called me to? Me and the Israelites, we’re cut from the same cloth.
There have been countless roundabouts in my life thus far. Can I retrace my steps exactly? Nope. But I can say that my God has journeyed with me every step of the way and continues to do so. What is clear is his compassion along the way. He has used the many roundabouts to shape me and to teach me to depend on him exclusively.
Clearly, the destination isn’t a location. I’ve learned that the end goal is following a path that leads me deeper and deeper into a relationship with my Creator…no matter how many twists, turns and stops there are along the way.
I’m learning to love the roundabout way because I see his hands all over it. He is always guiding. And he is perpetually present. Could I really ask for anything more?