As a child, I loved watching my mother nimbly making our clothes, curtains, cushions etc. Her sewing machine has covered many, many miles of fabric, and she’s still great at it, now nearly 96 years old! When I began to learn to sew, my father fixed a handle onto the machine and disconnected the motor. The pace was very much slower, but easier to control, and no risk of sewing through my small fingers.
God took his children, the Israelites, the slow but safe route too, when they were leaving Egypt. He did not want his infant nation to face situations they were not able to cope with (Exodus 13:17-18). They had been enslaved for hundreds of years. What chance had they had to develop skills of organisation, strategy, or planning? Did they even know how to make good choices after generations of just following orders? These people were far from ready to face a Philistine army.
A couple of days ago, my little granddaughter came for the day. She’d been given a knitting set and wanted to learn how to do it. But what a struggle she had! After a while, she gave up, and told me she was no good at it. I had to reassure her that she had done a great job, and that learning to knit is not that easy, it takes more practice. Kids are easily put off when they don’t get immediate success. I’ll need to keep encouraging her to keep trying.
God did not want the Israelites deterred and discouraged, turning back to the known state of Egyptian slavery. For them, it was the long way round, and it seemed such a hard route. Probably wary and worried, they went armed for battle; but God knew and understood they were just not ready for that challenge. It was more important that they succeeded, than that they were comfortable.
But the point is, he only allowed the challenges they were able to cope with. And God is fully aware of what each one of us is able to achieve. He will never present us with more than we are capable of and ready for, even if the task seems unsurmountable. However hard life gets, however daunting the task, we must trust that if it is the route he is taking us, then it is a safe route. And with him leading the way, we are able. There may be some slipping and sliding and struggling along the way, but in the end, we CAN DO it!