Not always quick and easy

Today's guest blogger is Stephanie Van Gorden. Sephanie has been a child of God for 29 years, a wife for 11 years, and a mom for 2 years to two children they're hoping to adopt from the foster system. 

 When Pharoah let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near. For God said, "Lest the people change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt." But God led the people around by the way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea... (Exodus 13:17-18)

Sometimes when God is at work, we wonder why it takes so long, why He chooses a harder road, when we see a shorter one. His work of sanctification in a believer is a prime example: why not just cut to the chase and make us like Christ immediately? Seriously. It would save everyone a lot of heartache.

Or would it?

Every faithful believer has been humbled. In fact, most of the time, conviction of sin doesn't feel like rainbows and sunshine. God doesn't humiliate His children - He humbles us. Humiliation is brought about by malicious intent on one side and pride on the other; humbling, on the other hand, is a gentle laying low. I know it doesn't always feel gentle, but given how that processcould go, God is always kinder to us than we deserve. Number, if you can, how many times that's happened over your life so far. Those events have all been necessary parts of the process of making us like Christ. Sometimes it feels like a chisel, sometimes a sledgehammer, but it's always painful. Separating us from the habits of a deeply-ingrained sin nature is careful surgery, completed by a master Surgeon, who alone knows how quickly or slowly to cut away.

Now. Imagine all those events happening all at once. He could take us down the nearer road, the quicker road...but He sees around the corner that blinds us: He sees the Philistines lying in wait. He knows the discouragement that would be ours. He knows that, even though we know there's a land flowing with milk and honey waiting at the end, sometimes we'd rather love our sin, where we're comfortable, than have to go through that kind of war. So He takes the long way around, not because He wants to prolong our pain, not because He enjoys seeing us squirm, but because, in His mercy, the long way is fraught with fewer dangers, and less real discouragement.

Ripping a bandaid off quickly may hurt for less time initially, but it often causes unnecessary damage to our tender skin, that takes longer to heal.

So the next time it feels like God is taking His own sweet time walking you through a valley, or cutting out a particular sinful "cancer" in your heart, rather than silently (or not-so-silently) berating Him for His cruelty (!), remember that "the LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love" (Psalm 103:8), and thank Him for protecting you from the Philistines that would threaten your very soul, and send you away from freedom, back to slavery.

The near road may be quick, but it's not always easy. Trust a loving God to follow the best timetable. Fix your eyes on Him, recognize that He firmly holds you by the hand and will not let go, not for one. single. step.

About Stephanie: "I used to be a counselor and Bible teacher, and I used to write a blog. These days, I counsel little hearts, teach my babies to love and memorize the Word of God, and my writing consists of modeling the ABC's for a preschooler who's dying to write. Lots of things have grown my faith over the years, but not much has shaken it like infertility, other chronic health issues, and motherhood, and I'm thankful that God has proven Himself faithful and merciful over and over again. I do all this from a tiny corner in Colorado where my family serves with Village Missions, a missions organization whose purpose is to strengthen and establish healthy Biblical churches in North America, primarily in rural areas."