The Short Way, Long Way, or Right Way

by Joanna Pierce on January 23, 2019

Every time my husband and I climb into the car for elongated travel, we enter into a slight debate: set the GPS to take the shortest distance or the fastest time. At first blush, it may appear that our deliberation is over a slight nuance, but the two options are as different as night and day.

Shortest distance is truly that—the fewest miles between point A and point B. In our experience, this equates to taking back roads, trolling through un-mapped small towns, and taking in a more scenic landscape. But the shortest distance absolutely does not equate to a fast trip. Going through small towns means fighting constant speed limit changes, sometimes dropping down to 15 miles per hour to navigate through a town square (why?), bumpy roads, and randomness I can’t explain in a blog post. In short, I like to call this the “long way.”

On the other hand, the fastest time pretty much keeps you on the highway or interstate, and you’re to your destination typically 30 minutes or sometimes hours faster. But, the highway has a lot of concrete, industrial buildings, and less-than desirable scenery. That’s “boring” according to my husband. So, he votes for shortest distance. I vote for fastest time. And, this transpires every…single…trip.

And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt: But God led the people about, through the way of the wilderness of the Red sea: and the children of Israel went up harnessed out of the land of Egypt (Exodus 13:17–18, KJV).

When God’s chosen people were freed from Egypt, they didn’t have GPS to lead the way; they had Moses. Two routes were ahead of them: 1) the shortest distance—through the land of the Philistines or 2) the fastest time—through the way of the wilderness, albeit a longer distance.

You might be thinking, hold on there, now! The GPS shortest time and fastest time conversions can’t be used here. Israel spent 40 years in the wilderness going with option 2. That didn’t really get them from point A to point B as fast as they possibly could go! But I think it was the fastest route, and here’s why.

God knew the spiritual state of his people after spending 400 years in bondage. They were a little leery of Moses coming in after being MIA for 40 years and foretelling God’s plan for deliverance. By the time they headed out of Egypt, their faith in God was quite shaky. Therefore, there was no way God was arranging a meet-cute with the Philistines on their journey. They would have been scared, scared, and hightailed it back to Egypt.

If you think Israel would have only stayed in Egypt for a few days after a Philistine-scare, think again. They (and future generations) would have remained hundreds of years or even the rest of their lives. Even though it was God’s perfect will for Israel to take a slightly longer-distanced journey to the Promised Land, He knew they’d ultimately spend 40 years in the wilderness. But, that was a better option than spending eternity in bondage to cruel task-masters.

In our spiritual walk, taking the shortest distance may seem to be the right path. We see the finish line and want to get there as quickly as possible, but God may want us to take a different route that actually will get us there pretty fast—or at least faster than what’s deemed as the “shortest” distance. It’s hard to accept that the “fastest route” might be a little boring or may seem more difficult at times when you get stuck in a construction zone that never ends, but God knows best, so let Him lead you.

Here’s the final lesson: I’m not saying fastest is always right. Whether you take the shortest distance or the fastest time, it’s important to know that you’re going the way God’s leading you. It’s not up to a GPS, and it wasn’t up to Moses. It’s always up to God to lead you the right way. If you follow God’s direction, I promise you’ll end up at the right destination soon enough, and better yet, at the right time.