The road often seems long and hard, doesn’t it? And not understanding why, we start to grumble and complain. (Come on, please tell me I’m not the only one!) We forget that life in Christ is a journey in which God calls us to keep going further up and further in with him.
The only way to become more like Christ, is to keep going deeper in him. And that’s the real journey he has us on. Christ doesn’t save us just so we can escape eternal hell and judgement, or danger and troubles here on earth. He’s working to make us more like him. And just as he did with the Israelites, he takes us through the desert, figuratively speaking.
The long hard road
He takes us down the longer, harder road.
There were two ways from Egypt to Israel. The ordinary caravan road (the shorter route), which passed through the land of the Philistines. This Way of the Sea, going straight from northern Egypt to the southern portion of Canaan, took about 3 weeks. And the longer route going through the southern wilderness, by way of the Red Sea. [Click on the following maps to enlarge them.]
Now the Lord could have proceeded along the shorter coastal route, simply destroying the Isrealite’s enemies along the way, as he later destroyed the Egyptians in the Red Sea. But instead he turned away from the Promised Land to lead them along a nearly 40 year journey through the southern wildnerness. And he had 3 specific reasons for doing so.
- Drowning the Egyptians to keep them from dragging the Israelites back.
- Bringing the Israelites to where they would obey, depend on, and trust in God.
- Preparing them for the many battles ahead in the Promised Land.
The Israelites simply weren’t ready. Neither to face their enemies in Canaan, nor to fully trust and obey him. So God led them on the long hard road because he was preparing their hearts.
He was preparing their hearts
God takes us down the long hard road because he’s preparing our heart for all that lies head.Tweet
Both to trust him for victory in battle, and for victory over their own fearful, selfish, and rebellious natures.
Arguing and fighting
But it seems they couldn’t even stop arguing over tent plots, let alone win battles against mighty foes!
Absurd as it seems, Moses had to hold legal sessions for them. What kind of cases could they have had? Coming out of slavery, they owned little more than their farm animals. And although the Lord enabled them to take the Egypt’s gold and treasures with them, such things are of little use in the wilderness.
They had no land of their own. Just a spot to pitch their tent. And they had to cart everything along, day after day. Just a few articles to pile on their donkey or oxen, or lug over their shoulder. (What a great aid to decluttering!)
Yet they had everything they needed. Food, water, and clothing. A cloud to shade the scorching sun, and a pillar of fire to warm the freezing desert nights. And all straight from God’s hand. No worries, and little to protect.
And still they fought and argued!
Can’t you just imagine the scene? “He pitched his tent too close to mine. I can even hear him snoring!” Or, “I’m supposed to march in line after Caleb, but he took my place!” Or perhaps, “His goat ate my tent rope!”
What a sad commentary on human nature. Though everything so clearly came from God, they bickered, scrapping over their rights. It’s no wonder God took them down the long, hard road!
He wanted them to become a people who would show what it means to walk with God. And instead they bickered, complained, and whined.
And how about you? Have you been guilty of complaining about the hard journey? Or of fighting for your rights? Being selfish?
Or with God’s help are you becoming the one who will share your cooking pots or give the best place to another? Willing even, to march last in line and not at the head?
Everything we have comes from God’s hand. And when we’re willing to give it back to him, or share it willingly and wholeheartedly with others, then we begin to really show what walking with him means. And it prepares us for the future he is leading us to. So that we can face the long hard road with joy and integrity!
May this be our journey during the coming year!
God takes us the long hard way because he’s preparing our hearts for what lies ahead.
Man on road by vanngoctang | Maps by Christ & Jennifer Taylor, CC-BY-NC license; from FreeBibleImages.org |Mountains by Reto Bürkler.
14 thoughts on “Face the Long Hard Road With Joy and Integrity!”
Your timing in reposting this is perfect. The road for everyone has become harder, longer, more uncertain. That picture is so appropriate–flat on our faces. The question is do we fall flat in humble submission to the reality of the journey or with an attitude of quitting and whining, which tends to be our lot. I needed this today, my friend.!
Thanks, Dayle. I think we all need this reminder sometimes. We so easily forget that God is working out HIS best for us – and so much of the time that is the complete opposite of OUR best. If he’s got us on a long hard road, we can rest in him. After all, if he has it planned – he also has it all under control! So let’s keep going further up and further in!!
This is sooo good! I see the path God has me on, it has been a many year path but through the struggles He has worked on me. He still has not given me what He promised in a vision. I am always reminded that I and my husband are not yet ready for it. Thank you so much!
Thank you for sharing Katie. I’m so glad that the post encouraged you along your hard road. It really does help to remember that while things seem long and hard, it’s all preparation for what lies ahead. God knows what he’s doing!
Oh yes, I have been guilty of fighting (or at least voicing vehemently!) for my rights–just recently. As the new year begins, I pray God helps me to sow grace into the lives around me, with less concern for “self” and more concern for bringing honor to Jesus. Thank you, Sheila, for a worthy focus as 2019 gets underway!
Well, Nancy, I tend to think that it’s an area we all need help in. Our “self” is so quick to rear his selfish head, isn’t he? Sowing grace, that is a good way to defeat our selfish nature, for sure!! Here’s to a fruitful and, as you said, a worthy 2019!!
For some reason, the words of a secular song “take the long way home” come to mind. I have had to take the long way because I would not have learned lessons otherwise. These season feels like that. I’m not sure of much, but I am sure that God is who He’s always been and He will never change. That truth gives me hope.
I’ve never heard of that song Matthew, but I am glad that you are seeing God’s presence in the midst of a long-road time. These times can be hard. But it surely is good to know that he’s got the road map and knows right where he’s going. We’re actually in a bit of a long-road time ourselves as well. As I pray for us to have direction, I’ll pray the same for you and your family too… as we just keep taking the next step God puts in front of us!
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Excellent post Sheila, it coincides with another trip through the OT that I’m doing so the timing is great. Your observations are so true, especially when you look at the time factor and our own journey through the wilderness. Grace and blessings as always. – Bruce
Thanks Bruce. The OT is so rich and has so much to teach us! How sad that I used to think it was dull and boring!! Enjoy your trip!
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Yes, I have definitely been guilty of complaining about the difficulty of the hard road! LOL I try hard to balance that with words of gratitude.
Well Shari, it’s good to know I’m not alone! May the Lord give us vision to see what he’s doing in the midst of all that’s going on. That would definitely help us remain more grateful!!
Wow. Great article, my friend. It’s so easy to whine and complain about the hard! But you’re right–the hard often prepares us for what’s harder. What’s more demanding. You painted wonderful pictures of what it had to have been like for the Israelites. And that’s my favorite book in all the Chronicles of Narnia–The Last Battle. Thanks for this.
Thanks so much Dayle! The Lord really spoke to me through this too. I really hope to make 2019 of less (no?) complaining – more thankfulness – and more of seeing God’s hand in everything!! And I do love me some Lewis too, my kindred friend!!