Monday, March 11, 2024

God of the Long Way

You've probably heard that the best way to face your problems is head-on, that it doesn't do any good to try to go around them or to take a different angle. If something is going awry, best to straighten it out right away by coming right at it and not backing down, not taking "no" for an answer. 

But what if that's not always the way?

David was engaged in a series of battles with the Philistines. Being a man of faith, he continually asked God for guidance about whether or not he should even go to battle and how to secure the best outcome. So he asks God, and God tells him to go into battle against the Philistines and he will win. David charges forward, attacks the Philistines head-on, and wins, just as God promised. 

Another battle, another prayer, another plan, another victory. And on and on and on it goes. 


David is once again faced with the Philistines. He once again prays to God for guidance. God once again tells him to go, that he will win (because He will win). But...don't go and attack them straight on. Don't just march out in battle lines against them. Don't just move forward. 

Rather, God tells David to take his men and to circle around behind the Philistines, then attack them from a different vantage point. 

Could God have given Israel another head-on victory? Of course, He could have. That's not the point. 

The point is that God wanted His people to know that sometimes, you have to take the long way. 

It's easy to trust in strength. It's easy to trust in victory. It's easy to trust in promise. It's harder to take the long way. 

It's harder to go the distance, to move around, to change your angle, to move your forces. It's harder to put your strength to a different test - a test of trust. 

Think about what David and his men had to do to attack the Philistines from behind - they had to walk right past them. They had to ignore the temptation to act in their own strength. They had to forget what had happened in the past - all of their previous victories - and focus on what God had told them this time. They had to trust God's plan, not themselves. They had to believe in the new thing, not in the old thing. It was an entirely different ball game. 

The long way is the way of trust. 

It's a lesson we all need. It's tempting for us to trust in our own strength, to trust in our track record, to trust in yesterday, to trust in the way we've "always done it" but it's harder for us to trust in a new thing, to try a new way, to walk right past and not be tempted to act too early. 

The long way is hard for us. 

But sometimes, as the story of David shows us, it is the best way, too. Because sometimes, it is God's way. 

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