I've heard it said by another pastor that the shortest distance between two points is a zig zag path. At least that was God's design for the Israelites as they came out of Egypt and were not taken by their rescuing Lord on the international highway that went straight to promised Canaan. Instead they were led by their Lord through the wilderness in order that he would "get glory over Pharaoh and all his host," (Ex. 14:4). Furthermore, at the beginning of the chapter Moses writes, "When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines (the international highway leading straight to Canaan), although that way was near. For God said, 'Lest the people change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt.' But God led the people around by the way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea." Haven't you ever wondered how it is that they ended up near the Red Sea in the first place? It was God's preparation for his people. It was God gaining glory for himself.
I have been reminded of this very truth over this past week. Last Wednesday as I flew home from Nashville to Phoenix we did not take the straight path. Storms over Oklahoma forced our plane south of Dallas en route to Denver. Then in Denver the pilot had to quit for the day due to FAA regulations that determine how much time he gets in the cockpit every work day. After an hour's wait for another pilot to be flown in we were on our way to Phoenix. All the while, I was sitting in the front of the plane shivering and shaking. My head was throbbing and my stomach felt nauseous. By Friday I was in the hospital being tested for spinal meningitis. Thankfully those tests were negative and doctor's concluded that I had some other unidentifiable virus. Nearly all of my plans for last weekend and early this week were jettisoned. In weakness I lumbered through until yesterday when my strength finally returned. Last Thursday night, just before I landed in the hospital, I really thought that I was going to die.
What was God doing? More prep work. That's what. Things needed to be calibrated in my heart ahead of our work in Las Vegas. Only God knows how to prepare his people for the days that lie ahead. Even though he takes us on the zig zag path, I'm thankful for the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night--his presence is sure, and his love enduring. For those of you who knew to be praying last week, thank you. May the Lord bless you on the zig zag path today!