I don't know about you, but I take most journeys with a view toward getting to the end as quickly and painlessly as possible. If I can see it from here, it must be close, and why waste any more time or effort than needed? I am not one who has done well with smelling the roses on the journey, or taking the scenic route, let alone a harder way just to build character or something of the sort.
One of my most significant faith journey stories deals with just such a journey - one that didn't go like I had scripted, but was the one God intended for me.
After I had been a Christian for only 2 years or so, I was single and living in Denver. I loved the city, the skiing, the climate - but not my job. But, I was only to be there a short time - it was a developmental assignment on the way to a bigger management role. Well, the time soon came for the next move and they asked me to go to, of all places, Alaska.
Please understand that I now love Alaska, but back then - well, I just didn't know. What I thought I knew was that Alaska as cold, dark, and, worst of all, largely devoid of female marriage prospects! After all, the Alaska Men's Magazine was out there recruiting single women to move to Alaska for all the rugged, eligible mountain men living there. Single men moving to Alaska to find a should mate - now that didn't sound like a good plan at all. And not only that, I was not getting promoted. So, I was not happy, but transfers were not easy to turn down if you wanted to stay on the management track.
I spent a couple of days wrestling on the decision, talking with friends, and getting nowhere. In fact, I spent the entire last night before making the decision up with friends. I finally nodded off in the wee hours of the night and then overslept. Now I was panicked on top of it all. I was going to be late for work, and I still didn't know what to do!
Rushing to get ready, I had convinced myself that I would have to skip my usual morning devotional reading and prayer time. But then, in a moment of clarity and peace, I realized I was going to be late anyway, so why not be 30 minutes later and spend time with God?
My reading that day was in Exodus (not a place I normally turn for inspiration, to be honest), and the verses of Exodus 13:17-18 (NLT) jumped out at me - "When Pharaoh finally let the people go, God did not lead them along the main road that runs through the Philistine territory, even though that was the shortest route to the Promised Land. God said, 'If the people are faced with a battle, they may change their minds and return to Egypt.'"
There is was - north to Alaska without a promotion was not the route I would have chosen, but I was suddenly convinced it was the way in which God was leading me. So, I went in to work and accepted the transfer.
It wasn't long before I realized how wise this choice was. I loved Alaska and everything about it, and I shortly got promoted. And best of all, I soon met my future wife, Martha Oudal. Amazingly, I got everything I had actually hope for - it just took a little longer and was a little further out of the way than I had thought best in my own wisdom.
In short, God shows that the shortest way is not always best nor is the least costly alternative always best. After all, His ways are not our ways - they are higher than ours (Is 55:8-9). And that is where our faith must come in. Do we trust Him to lead us the best way, as He clearly sees all the obstacles we will face, in addition to knowing where we may fail. He is good, and if we but trust Him, He will lead us to the Promised Land.