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Why the Way to Shur isn’t the Best Way to Run

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As creatures of habit, we take the same roads to work, school, and church each time we go. We call it efficiency. But we also have a road we take when we’re struggling. Typically it’s the same road each time.

Take the Way to Shur

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When faced with a problem or a temptation, we tend to retrace our steps and head in a direction we’ve gone a thousand times before.

  • It’s familiar.
  • It often makes most sense.
  • It’s a well-traveled road; most people take it.

There’s a road in the book of Genesis called the “Way to Shur.” The patriarchs took it more than once.

It’s the same road we take when we’re struggling.

The Way to Shur

The most-traveled road from biblical Canaan to Egypt—the International Highway—ran the full length of Israel. Joseph’s unwelcome journey to Egypt from Dothan took this coastal International Highway (Gen. 37:25, 28).

But another road also led to Egypt—less common, but important. Joseph’s brothers took this different route.

  • From Hebron they traveled the local ridge route southwest to Beersheba.
  • From there they entered the wilderness of Beersheba, a steppe land through which a road called the Way to Shur ran west to Egypt.
The Way to Shur

(The Way to Shur led from Canaan to Egypt. Map courtesy of Satellite Bible Atlas)

This road played a key role earlier in Genesis:

  • Abraham took this road to Egypt to escape a famine (12:10–20).
  • Hagar took the Way to Shur to escape the misery of mistreatment (16:7).

In these instances, the attempts to escape from the difficult will of God only found each person back at the same place of having to trust the Lord all over again.

Taking the Way to Shur in this way solved nothing. It never does.

Another Way to take the Way to Shur

Not every instance of God’s people taking the Way to Shur represented an attempt to escape from God’s will. As Jacob and the Hebrew children left Canaan to enter Egypt at Joseph’s invitation, they would travel the Way to Shur.

God spoke to Jacob in a dream, telling him four truths in Genesis 46:3-4:

  1. I am God.
  2. Do not be afraid to go where I am leading you.
  3. My purposes for you are there, not here.
  4. I will go there with you.

In our own lives, we need to hear these principles as well. The difficulty of God’s will surface our tendency to repeat patterns of escape—taking the Way to Shur in a way that lacks faith.

But God allows the challenge to urge us to take the journey in a different way.

You’re facing a difficulty today. Walk down the road God leads you by faith. Trust Him for every step.


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