The Long Road of Love
Love—true love—often comes in unexpected ways, and sometimes, even in “tough” ways. We came upon one such example in our Life Journal readings this week, on Wednesday…
It so happened that after Pharaoh released the people, God didn’t lead them by the road through the land of the Philistines, which was the shortest route, for God thought, “If the people encounter war, they’ll change their minds and go back to Egypt.” (Exodus 13:17 Msg.)
Oh, what manner of love! The Lord understood—and understands—one of the fundamental flaws of our fallen human nature. When confronted with a battle, we have an enormous tendency to turn around and run back to what we are comfortable with…
For the Israelites in the time of the Exodus, what they were comfortable with was slavery and bondage. For all of us, “Egypt” represents slavery to sin and the various bondages of our fallen nature. God knew that the short road was preferable to the people, but more dangerous than they could comprehend. That truth still stands for all of us today….!
We humans want the short route! The short route to the “promise.” The easy way to fulfillment. The quick path to spiritual maturity. The only problem is, the conflict we will face on the short road will end the journey all together. For Love’s sake, God has a better plan: The long and winding road, that leads to His door! (My thanks to Paul McCartney for some appropriate lyrics!)
The short route doesn’t afford us the time to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might (Eph. 6:10). Therefore, when the wars of life come, we run back to sin, to bondage, to heartache, and to hopelessness. It seems crazy, but it is absolutely the truth. Shortcuts on the road to holiness become no holiness at all, as we run back to the vomit and mire of our old life. There are no shortcuts in walking with our God!
The long and winding road, however, allows us to finish this race and finish it well. The long way establishes and roots us in Jesus—safe beyond all the storms of life.
Are there wars and battles and struggles on this long road, too? Yes! Remember, it was this route that gave Pharaoh and his army the will and time to attack—and God the way to demonstrate again His glory and sovereignty!
Israel would have never experienced the deliverance through the Red Sea on the short road; in fact, Israel would have chosen to forgo both deliverance and salvation on that path! The Love of God calls us to something longer—and infinitely better!
Though battles and wars will rage against us regardless of the road, Jesus calls us to a “narrow way” that is longer and less predictable—and less traveled. Still, it is on this path—and only on this long route—that we develop the character and trust to run forward into Daddy’s arms, rather than back into Egypt’s “charms.” It is the long road that allows us sufficient time to mature, so that our reaction to battle will be to stand and fight—dressed in the Armor of the Lord—rather than turn and run…and die.
Love chooses the looooooooooong road. And Love Himself travels the long, winding, narrow road with us, and for us! Now that is LOVE!