Recently in our 2nd grade class we discussed the Battle at Ai in which the Israelites fail in taking the city of Ai (because of sin in the camp), and then are victorious, with God’s direction and commands being obeyed this time. We fully discussed the unfortunate and final consequences that befell Achan AND his family when he chose to sin rather than to obey. As we were nearing the end of the story, with Joshua and the Israelites victorious in battle, we read of Joshua taking the Books of the Law out of the Ark of the Covenant, re-writing them, and reading them to the Israelites. I asked the students to think about this, having read through much of Genesis, Exodus, and a little Leviticus and Deuteronomy with them. We discussed how long this must have taken, and how tired Joshua might have been writing it out by hand, how many pages it must have been, even whether or not the Israelites had taken a bathroom break during its reading.
I hadn’t planned to focus on this part of the story much at all! Yet, the students really wanted to contribute to the discussion, and we ended the story on a much different note than I had purposed. When we were done, I realized that while we didn’t focus much on the obvious point of the story (obedience), we were able to ruminate on different aspects of God’s leading (patience and faithfulness ) in the lives of the Israelites – possibly just as important.
So many times we are intent on following a path we think God is leading us down – but along the way we are slowed down by the needs of others, by the detritus on the path, even by paths that seem to be taking us back to where we began. God is waiting for us to understand that even though His leading can wind around, taking us where we didn’t expect to go, or even don’t want to go, the journey, and what we learn along the way, is part of His plan. So when God redirects our wheels, we shouldn’t panic or balk – His timing, and His way, no matter how circuitous, is the path on which we should be. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” (Prov. 3:5-6)