Deuteronomy 31:8 – It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed. (ESV)
One of my favorite things about reading through the Bible is finding verses that I’ve never noticed before.
A few weeks ago, I found a little nugget tucked away in Exodus.
The Israelites are camped out at Mt. Sinai and God is promising them that when they go into Canaan, they will be victorious. There’s all sorts of awesome promises about angels going before them to guard the way and how God would be the enemy of their enemies. There’s even a really interesting one where God promises to send hornets into the land to drive out the Hivites, the Canaanites, and the Hittites.
Then, God drops in this little aside.
“I will not drive them out from before you in one year, lest the land become desolate and the wild beasts multiply against you. Little by little I will drive them out from before you, until you have increased and possess the land.” (Exodus 23:29-30)
Honestly, it seems pretty obvious to me why He did this. With what we know about the Israelites abysmal short term memory, if He’d cleared out the Promised Land in one fell swoop, they would have forgotten before they got half a mile in. Then they would have complained about wild beasts and overgrown fields while calculating how many days it would take to get back to Egypt.
I can see this so clearly when it comes to the ancient Hebrews, but I don’t like it so much when God applies this same principle to my own life.
I want God to give me a nice yellow brick road. A straight, obstacle free path leading from where I am to where He wants me to be.
Instead, He shows me my own Promised Land, promises He will never leave me or forsake me, and teaches me to trust Him in and through each obstacle—the ones He chooses to clear aside and the ones He chooses to allow me to endure.
All the while, I’m growing, learning, changing, and preparing to possess the land.
When I get there, I’ll appreciate every square inch of it, because I will have seen—and will remember—how God cleared the way.
Father, thank you for going before us. Help us to trust you each and every step along the way.