When it comes to where God is taking us we are directionally impaired. We don’t know where he’s taking us and the route that he’s taking us isn’t listed on MapQuest! When the Jews left Egypt under the leadership of Moses and began their route to the Promised Land, what should’ve taken a few weeks ended up taking 40 years. Either somebody’s GPS was broken or God was up to something else.
What I have learned about life is that very often I can’t get there from here. What that means is that God is doing a lot more than just taking me to a new destination; he is doing something in me as we go. Listen to Moses as he reminds the Jewish people that it wasn’t just about getting to the promised land that was important, but the condition of their heart when they got there.
Deut. 8:2 Remember how the Lord your God led you through the wilderness for these forty years, humbling you and testing you to prove your character, and to find out whether or not you would obey his commands. 3 Yes, he humbled you by letting you go hungry and then feeding you with manna, a food previously unknown to you and your ancestors. He did it to teach you that people do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.
We are people who are destination oriented. When I plan a beach vacation I am bent I’m getting to the ocean with as few stops as possible. I’m all about getting to the destination. God is not this way. All along the path to the destination God is developing our hearts. He is developing our character, he is developing a Godward passion, he is developing our faith, he is teaching us to trust and he is humbling us. His true destination for us is not a place but rather it is a state of the heart where we learn to live by “every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.”
We mistakenly think that the Christian walk and growth is an accumulation of knowledge and Bible information, but it’s not. Some of the most fanatical and well-versed people in the Scriptures have the most twisted and bitter hearts. What God is interested in is that our Bible knowledge becomes a life-giving truth in our life and the only way that seems to happen is when we undergo testing. We seem to live on a “need to know” basis; in other words, when you need it you will know it and take ownership of it. For instance, we know about grace and we have heard a lot about it but it will never become a reality in our heart until we need it. Moses tells us that God tested his people to find out what was in their heart. It’s not that he didn’t know what was in their heart; it’s that we don’t know what’s in our heart! It’s during testing that we find out what we truly believe.
You can’t get there from here. We all want to get somewhere; a better marriage, closer to God, to make an impact on the world, those are the destinations. The road to get to those destinations is not on a map, you can’t get there from here. The road to those destinations requires a character development, a spiritual life development and a passion for the will of God. Those are the things that God will develop along the way that will serve us well wherever we are.