When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them along the road to the land of the Philistines, even though it was nearby; for God said "The people will change their minds and return to Egypt if they face war." Exodus 13:17
Do you ever feel like SURELY there has to be a better way than this? I do. I often wonder what God is doing in my life. I can't see where I'm going and I get frustrated a lot, especially if I think there is another way.
The way God led the Children of Israel out of Egypt and into the Promised Land was not the quickest way. In fact the way he led them was around and around a mountain for 40 years. The Bible says that He led them by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. He was always with them.
He led them in the wilderness for 40 years teaching them about Himself. There was a lot to learn too. He was not like the other gods they had heard about in Egypt. This was the first time they had experience with this God of their Father's. Where they had been in Egypt everything was a god. The sun god, the moon god, the frog god. The Egyptians had hundreds of gods. They also feared their gods and had to do everything they could to keep them happy or they feared the consequences.
He was also teaching them daily dependence on Him. You see just like us they thought they could figure this all out, but God's ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts. He needed to teach them His ways.
God knew that they were weak mentally, emotionally, and physically. They had been slaves, oppressed by a hard taskmaster. They were a broken people. He knew they were not able to face the armies that they would have to fight against yet. So, God gave them time to get strong. He gave them time to rest. He taught them along the way if you cry out to me I will listen and I will fight for you... with a MIGHTY HAND.
God is not in any hurry. He knows what we need and He knows that sometimes the fastest, straightest way is not the best for us. He will lead us like a lamp unto our feet, with barely enough light to see the next step we should take. If he showed us too much we might not go His way. We might be overwhelmed and turn back. So, he leads us one small step at a time. Sometimes for a long time around the same mountain, while he teaches us about Him, and he shows us He is our provision, our protection, our everything. YAHWEH. All sufficient God.
We don't know what we are up against, but He does. We aren't strong for the battle, but HE IS. We have some learning to do...