The Upper Room devotional reflection for Thursday, May 19, 2022 comes to us from Brian Foster of North Carolina.
17 When Pharaoh 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 might change their minds and return to Egypt." 18 So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of Egypt ready for battle. 19 Moses took the bones of Joseph with him because Joseph had made the Israelites swear an oath. He had said, "God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up with you from this place." 20 After leaving Sukkoth they camped at Etham on the edge of the desert. 21 By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. 22 Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people. Exodus 13:17-22 NIV
On a recent flight to visit family, I happened to get a window seat. After we had been in the air awhile, I took a break from reading and gazed out the window. The sky was clear blue, and I could see all the way to the ground. We were over sections of land that had no signs of life in any direction. However, I noticed rivers and streams that flowed between the stretches of land. It struck me that the rivers were all winding – no one river ran straight.
I began to think of my life and how it has not run a straight path to where I am today. In today’s reading, we see that God did not take Moses and the Israelites on the shortest route to the Promised Land. Instead, God led them on a long and challenging journey through the desert so that they could avoid war with the Philistines. Like a winding river, our lives are filled with circuitous changes of direction. But the good news is that just as the river continues to flow, God’s directions will take us where God wants us to be. We have only to trust God on the way.
I can relate to Brian Foster’s image of life not running on a straight path. Lately, I have found myself reflecting about the paths that my life journey has traveled and how they have impacted me. Mostly I can feel God’s presence directing me in the ways that I should go. But, like the rivers in this reflection, many of my paths have been winding and sometimes confusing. I have wondered if that is in fact God’s plan for me. Perhaps the paths that God lays out for us are not always straight or direct, but lead us to make important discoveries on more winding and circuitous paths.
O Lord, thank you for your grace-filled wisdom and guidance. Help us to rely on your directions for our lives and to draw closer to you as we travel the path you intend for us. In Jesus name, we pray. Amen.
Thought for the Day:
Regardless of the route, I will embrace God’s journey for me.
Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”
Isaiah 30:21 (NIV)