The Long Way Around

 
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If you’ve known the pain of life taking a detour, then this is the message you need to listen to today.  This week we are going to look at how there is a better question to be asking than “Why”.  Tune in to check it out! Need prayer? visit my.oswegochristian.com/pray to post a request.Subscribe to our podcast on your phone to automatically have new messages downloaded weekly: in iTunes (http://my.oswegochristian.com/iTunes) or Android (http://my.oswegochristian.com/Google)

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OPENINGILLUSTRATION: I would say one of the most difficult things for me to understand in my life is when things don’t turn out the way I would most hope they would turn out.  When I don’t get to just go down the shorter road.
Have you felt this before? -you always dreamed of being in a certain profession, but because of money in college, you had to drop out and get to work -you hoped a friendship would blossom into something more and it just fizzled -you thought you’d have the perfect family and instead you have perfected faking it
Most of the time, we are left asking the question “why?”-why is God silent -why does He let it happen?
This morning as we learn some lessons from exiles, I want you to learn a different question to ask…
Exodus 13:1717 When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter.
Has it ever felt like God has taken you on the long road around? -it was shorter to go through the Philistine country
    •    It would be shorter for you to just get the raise    •    It would be shorter for you to get the family you’ve always wanted    •    It would be shorter for your kids to just turn around
You know this story, right – Moses has gone before Pharaoh and asked him repeatedly to let the Israelites go, and
Pharaoh has said no…
Finally, after the death of the first born children of Egypt, Pharaoh lets the Israelites go. 
And now, after 430 years of slavery, God doesn’t let them go down the shorter path…
What is the shorter path for you? Another way to say it What dreams seem to be lost for you?
Financially, you thought by now you’d be able to retire and all of the sudden instead of it being a few years away, it now seems like it’s a lifetime away
You had thought your relationship would have taken off by now and it feels like the dream of having it is slowly fading…
Do you feel it? 
Sometimes, the path God leads us down feels more like a detour than a destination
This road through the Philistine country was called “the way of Horus”.  It was a road that went followed right along bottom of the Mediterranean Sea.  It would have taken them about a week or so to walk this distance…
But that’s not where God takes them… He takes them on a detour, south to the red sea.  Honestly, if you look at the geography it feels needless
God did not have to take them through the red sea out into the dessert. 
Did you know that? He could have just taken them on the shorter path… And for every Israelite following Moses, it had to feel like a detour…
It’s no wonder that pretty quickly, the Israelites start to doubt and quarrel…
Listen to the “why”Exodus 13:17-1817 When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” 18 So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of Egypt ready for battle.
God took them on the detour to rescue them
ILLUSTRATION: Have you ever been driving you come up over a hill and you see a car in the oncoming traffic attempting to pass another car.  Both are barreling up the highway at you.  I’ve been in this situation a few times, and it feels surreal.  You have to make a choice, do you slow down, do you run off the road, do you run into the side of the road, do you hope one of them backs off? 
The only thing you know is that if everyone keeps going the direction they are going, there’s going to be a wreck..
Look, God forced the Israelites out of their lane to save them. 
He took  them from one path that would lead to sure devastation  to a path that would require them to risk trusting God.
They will have trust him to lead them – pillar of fire and cloud they will have to trust him to take them through the red sea they will have to trust him to deal with Pharaohs army they will over and over again have to trust him…
Look, I don’t believe that God causes every single thing to happen in your life -I actually think it’s dangerous to take OT stories like this and try to apply them exactly to your life -This was God bringing His people out, for a specific reason at a specific time
But there is a principle that we can glean – Paul says it in
Romans 8:2828 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose.
Listen,You may never know the “why” God allowed you to go through what you went or are going through, but you can be sure of the “what” God wantsBGod wants to turn your worst moment, even THIS, into something to be used for His glory…
CLOSING ILLUSTRATION: I love our eldership.  You don’t know this, but right before this pandemic, we had been taking a deep dive into our leadership and looking at ways we can continue to grow and follow Jesus in faith.  And then, all of the sudden, our worlds got turned upside down.  The rug got pulled out from underneath us.  You know, a lot of churches have really suffered during this time, but under their leadership and your continued faithfulness, God has blessed our church.
This was not the destination we were seeking… But we started talking a couple months ago about the vision for our church to continue to grow and reach more people.
What it would take, it’s going to take us getting out of the way and letting God work.  It’s going to take some detours that none of us expected…
And, so we started talking about, what if we took this time to experiment and try some things things for the Kingdom instead of just trying to go back to normal.
What if we transformed our gym into a fantastic worship space, what if we could some day pack in 300 people in this space worshipping Jesus?
What if we did two services and were able to make it work and could invest even more in our kids ministry some day because we could allow people to serve in ministry and still be encouraged by the studying of the word.  See, My hope is that as you go through detours in life, that you will change the question from Why? to What if?
Will worshiping in the gym work?  I don’t know, but what if it did?  What if?
What if God moved mightily? What if your great financial difficulty lead you into generosity? What if your relational difficulties lead you into leading a marriage ministry? What if your worst or scariest moment was actually a moment God wanted to use to bring about something spectacular? 
In a moment we are going to sing a couple songs and then we will dismiss you all…
This is your time to take communion, but I also want to ask you to do something different.  We’ve spread out markers and want you to come and get one and take some time to pray a “What if prayer?”
and then I want you to cover these walls and stage with your “What if Prayers”  You can write scriptures, you can write your prayers, you can write the names of people you are praying for to find Jesus…
Let’s cover these walls and stage…