“When Pharoah let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, if they face war, they may change their minds and return to Egypt.” Exodus 13:17
Growing up, I encountered a lot of fear. In my mind as a little girl, there seemed to be no safe place to talk about my childhood fear and cry out tears of sadness. As I entered my adolescent years, I stuffed my fears by finding ways to avoid feeling scared, mostly through achieving or partying.
I came to know Jesus during my freshman year of college. Just like God led the people of Israel out of slavery in Egypt, I felt His powerful release wash over me. I savored with great delight the truth that being in Christ meant I was a new creation. I immediately saw areas of my life transform as I relished the evidence of a Savior who is alive.
As Jesus so sweetly does, He began unraveling the tightly-bound cords of fear suffocating the joy and creativity out of me. I came face-to-face with situations which surfaced my fears. Through wise counsel, God gave me insight about how my entanglements of fear began and spread.
Over the last twenty five years of knowing Jesus, I walk out the healing journey of expressing my fear, finding security in being known, grieving out losses and recognizing how to avoid inviting fear to hang around. At times, a battle arises, presenting another layer rooted in the past. I wonder why my freedom is not fully secured. I am tempted to either feel like God is picking on me or somehow my life in Christ doesn’t “stick” in this area.
I pause to ponder the path God leads the Israelites out of slavery into freedom in the Promised Land. Exodus 13:17 explains that God leads them through the wilderness by the Red Sea even though it was much shorter to go through Philistine territory. He does not want the people to face the immediate terror of war.
God knows if the people encounter the prospect of war upon leaving their bondage in Egypt, they will never know the life He is preparing. They will count the cost of freedom and arrive at the wrong conclusion: the enemy is too strong and they are set up for failure. Life in Egypt in comparison will seem more attractive and any hope of being free will be snuffed out of their thinking.
God leads His children by the way of the wilderness to show He is able to bring them through every need. The people recognize the very present activity of God as they travel the long way. The water from a rock when there is thirst, the manna on the ground as the taste of His faithfulness each day. It is in the wilderness where God speaks to Moses about the laws of the nation and entrusts him with the Ten Commandments. The Israelites come to recognize their identity as followers of the One True God.
The way of freedom may seem long and frustrating at times. I am reminded in a fresh way that my Heavenly Father knows the route to take me which positions me to simultaneously experience His freeing power and tender mercy. God enables me to overcome as I understand more fully how He embraces me as His beloved daughter. He is so zealous for my freedom and chooses the path to turn the cords binding me into a net to be cast out to others who are longing for freedom. ~Laura