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.
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 13:17-18, 20-22 (New International Version)
Why Plan and Prepare
When we are told that we about to do something exciting, like go to the moon for example, we are eager to get it done. However, before we can proceed, we are told that we have to make preparations and get training for the journey; and our excitement becomes impatient frustration. Why is it important to plan and prepare ourselves before pursuing any enterprise?
After hundreds of years of bondage in Egypt, Israel was finally free. They were eager to go into Canaan and possess the land which God had promised them. However, instead of leading the people directly to the Promise Land, the Lord instructed Moses to take them through the desert toward the Red Sea, hundreds of miles off course. I can imagine that the Israelites were confused by this and wondered why they were taking such a detour.
Training Their Hearts
Despite their eagerness to go and possess the land, God knew the condition of their hearts. He knew that the moment Israel faced difficulty in the campaign for Canaan (which they would if they took the direct route), they would lose heart and return from which they came, into the land of bondage. That was because their confidence was not grounded on their dependence on the Lord, but founded in their own self-confidence. In order to fulfill their Godly commission, Israel needed Godly training from the Lord. Only through this training, was it possible for them to successfully accomplish the mission they were given.
The Importance of Godly Training
As followers of Christ, we too have been a mission from God. However, before we can be successful in this mission, we must also receive Godly training. Christians who do not seek training as they do the work of God fail in their endeavors and suffer spiritual scars as a result. Such scarring may cause a believer to hesitate if they are called to serve again.
To prevent such scars, there must be a time in our lives when we need to be trained and tested by the Master Teacher, the Lord God. Being trained by the Lord will not be an easy endeavor because it requires us to tear down our notions of self-reliance and build a foundation of trust with God. During this season of instruction, we will experience confusion and discomfort, and we may even feel frustrated at God.
God is with Us
Training for something is never fun, whether it be training to go to the moon or fulfilling the work of God. Nevertheless, such training is essential if we want success in any enterprise. As we pursue Godly training, let us not lose heart, for the Lord has promised us that He will be with us throughout the whole ordeal. As long as we remain steadfast in the will of the Lord, He will provide us with the things needed to succeed.