Why God Makes You Go The Long Way

His mysterious leading proves wiser than our impatient pleas for progress.

Sometimes God takes you the long way in life. That’s hard, because the direct route makes so much more sense. We’re all about efficiency. But God has a different destination in mind.

What to Watch Out for When You Enter the Promised Land

(Photo: Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

The nation of Israel began their journey from Egypt to the Promised Land by promptly turning away from it.

Rather than take the shorter, coastal route to Canaan, God directed Israel southeast toward the Red Sea. The direct route led through the land of the Philistines, and while God could have simply destroyed the enemy (as He would at the Red Sea), His concern lay more with the unprepared and fearful hearts of His people (Exod. 13:17-18).

So God took them the long way. And it seemed pointless. But was it?

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Why You Never Need to Settle for Second Best with God

What God wants to give us is always far better than what we want Him to give us.

A friend of mine told me: “The only thing harder than waiting on God is wishing you had.” When our desires go unmet for a long time, it’s tempting to settle for second best and call it God’s will. That’s what the people of Reuben and Gad did.

Never Settle for Second Best with God

(Photo: Land of Gilead, overlooking the Sea of Galilee. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

The tribes of Reuben and Gad had huge herds, and the land of Gilead and Jazer had lush pastures. So they said to Moses:

Let this land be given to your servants as a possession; do not take us across the Jordan. —Numbers 32:5

They settled east of the Jordan River instead of crossing over into what God had promised.

Their choice shows us why we should never settle for second best with God.

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How Geography Opens Our Eyes about God’s Closed Doors

Why does God hinder us from doing what He commanded us to do?

Sometimes it seems God gets in the way of us doing the very things He’s commanded. The most frustrating part of these moments isn’t our lack of success. It’s our confusion. Why does God close the door on His will?

How Geography Opens Our Eyes about God’s Closed Doors

(Photo: Troas, where Paul, Silas, and Timothy visited. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

These roadblocks in God’s guiding us show up in various ways.

  • A relationship that stays strained.
  • A ministry effort that can’t start.
  • A job search that lands nowhere.
  • A person who refuses to change.

These closed doors can confuse our spiritual lives by seeming to contradict the will of God. Doesn’t the Lord want relationships to mend, people to change, ministry to occur, and provision for daily needs?

Thankfully, the Bible’s geography offers us some clarity.

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How God Helps You in Impossible Situations

The only way to experience the joy of God's power

God often puts us in impossible situations. We find it frustrating, sure—but it’s never meant to be. In fact, those circumstances are meant to do just the opposite. God means to encourage us.

Plain of Bethsaida

(Photo: Plain of Bethsaida. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

With the Sea of Galilee in view on the Plain of Bethsaida, Jesus pointed to thousands of people and said to His twelve disciples: “You give them something to eat!” (Mark 6:37).

You can hear the frustration in the disciples’ reply: “Should we spend half a year’s wages to feed them?” Forget for a moment you’ve heard this story before.

Think instead of your current problem.

  • Your financial picture is unmanageable.
  • A close relationship has been strained for years.
  • You’ve been unemployed for much longer than you imagined.

Whatever it is you’re facing today, you face one of many impossible situations. Now go back to Jesus’ crazy command to His disciples. His solution for them is also His solution for you.

Let me show you why.

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When You’re Waiting on God in a Weary Land

How your place of confusion can become a place of refuge.

Sometimes waiting on God feels like you’re dying of thirst. That’s what David thought as he wandered in the Judean wilderness, running from a problem he couldn’t solve.

Waiting on God in a Weary Land

(Photo: The Wilderness of Judea. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Chased by the jealous King Saul, David took refuge in the Wilderness of Judea and prayed, “My flesh yearns for You, in a dry and weary land where there is no water” (Psalm 63:1).

This barren land is a picture of our own challenge with waiting on God.

It also pictures the place of refuge God provides for us while we wait.

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Why God Seems So Amazingly Inefficient in Your Life

Peter’s journey to Caesarea shows us God’s priority

In getting things done, God sometimes seem amazingly inefficient. He chooses some people to do a job when others are far more competent—or close. Peter’s trip to Caesarea shows us why.

Why God Seems So Amazingly Inefficient in Your Life

(Photo: Caesarea by the Mediterranean Sea. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

The Lord wanted a man named Cornelius to hear the good news about Jesus Christ—that whoever believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins. In order to share this wonderful news, God chose what seemed an inefficient way and an unqualified person.

The reason why offers insight into God’s inefficiency in our lives.

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When Finding Favor with God Makes Life Tough

What was true of Mary is also true for you—why that's good news.

It sounds strange, but sometimes finding favor with God makes life tough. When Gabriel informed Mary she would give birth to the Son of God, many thoughts ran through her mind, not the least of which was how she, a virgin, could conceive.

When Finding Favor with God Makes Life Tough

(Photo: by Jolanta Dyr. Own work. CC-BY-SA-3.0-pl, via Wikimedia Commons)

What’s more, Mary knew the social and biblical fallout that occurs for a pregnant woman without a husband. How could she possibly explain that her pregnancy was an act of God and not an act of passion? Finding favor with God meant she faced disfavor from people. Maybe finding favor with God isn’t all it’s cracked up to be?

Christmas usually causes us to marvel at the virgin conception—and at the love of our God who would become Man so that He could die for our sins.

But there’s another part of the Christmas story that amazes me just as much. It comes from this amazing young woman.

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Why God Closes Doors On Good Plans In The World

Paul's time at Troas reveals why God's plans forward begin with closed doors.

Sometimes our path to next level includes what seem like setbacks. But they aren’t. God simply uses these tensions to propel us forward. Like an arrow pulled back against the bow. Paul’s time at Troas proved it true. 

A paved road at Troas

(Photo: A paved road at Troas. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Paul’s second missionary journey began, it seemed with two steps back. He and Silas passed through the Phrygian and Galatian region, because the Holy Spirit forbid them to share the Word in Asia. Then the Lord didn’t permit them to share in Bithynia either (Acts 16:6-7). 

Strange, isn’t it? God kept them from sharing God’s Word in places that needed it. 

But why? 

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When You’re Ready—But Nothing Happens

Peter's experience at Caesarea may explain why.

You’re ready for a change. You’ve asked God to open a new door in your life, and He has taken years to prepare you for it. Finally, you’re ready. There’s just one problem. Nothing happens. You just hover. 

Caesarea, where Peter met Cornelius

(Photo: Caesarea, where Peter met Cornelius. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

The plan of God includes preparation and waiting. But why do you have to keep waiting once God has prepared you? What else must you do for God to open the door?

The Apostle Peter experienced something at Caesarea by the Sea that may explain why your progress is delayed.

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Why God Will Lead You Unwanted Places

The Holy Land helps us discover the joy of surrendering to God

God will lead you places you would never choose. Unwanted places. Because the Lord is greater than we can imagine, it makes sense He wants for us more than we ever dreamed. The Holy Land proved it so. 

Why God Will Lead You Unwanted Places

(Photo: Sunset over the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

God wants you to trust Him, and you’d like to do so. He wants you to glorify Him, to know Him, and so do you. But really, you often want to trust God only when you understand Him. Too often, that desire to know the Lord slices His list of attributes in half.

When you and I settle for anything less than all of God, we also settle for less than all we can become.

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