I had the inclination to read in Deuteronomy this morning—not my first choice. Hey, I’m just being honest. The Apostle Paul is usually more interesting than Moses.
So I opened my Bible to the fifth book and began reading. In only three verses, God revealed something to me I hadn’t before realized. Let’s take a look:
“These are the words that Moses spoke to all the people of Israel while they were in the wilderness east of the Jordan River. They were camped in the Jordan Valley near Suph, between Paran on one side and Tophel, Laban, Hazeroth, and Di-zahab on the other. Normally it takes only eleven days to travel from Mount Sinai to Kadesh-barnea, going by way of Mount Seir. But forty years after the Israelites left Egypt, on the first day of the eleventh month, Moses addressed the people of Israel, telling them everything the LORD had commanded him to say” (Deut. 1:1-3 NLT).
Did you notice? It took the Israelites 40 years to travel a distance that only required a number of days! No wonder we have the cliche: “Slower than Moses.”
Why did God take the Israelites on a 40-year journey instead of the much shorter alternative?
I believe God has given me an answer to this question. You see, God is more concerned with the journey than the outcome. Put another way, God is more concerned with the preparation than the destination.
Why did it take God a decade to heal you of a disease that could have been cured in a number of days?
Why did it take God 15 years to provide you the job that could have been provided in a number of days?
Because God cares more about the process than the product. Consider what the Israelites experienced throughout their 40-year journey. They marveled as God split the Red Sea (Ex.14). They watched God miraculously provide manna and quail (Ex. 16). They received the 10 Commandments (Ex. 20). They constructed the Tabernacle, the Ark of the Covenant, and solidified a priesthood (Ex. 35-40).
Just imagine if none of that happened. God didn’t want the Israelites’ bodies entering the Promised Land before their hearts. God didn’t want the destination to arrive without the foundation to sustain it. He didn’t want the Israelites to receive the promise and have no substance to handle it with gratitude and responsibility. And the same is true for you and me.
Remember, God cares more about preparation than destination.
At this point in my life, I’m particularly focused on selecting the right college and major. In a nutshell, I’m about to work hard for a number of years to obtain a piece of paper. I’m about to spend thousands of dollars, countless hours, and time away from my family for a sheet of paper that bears my name. Seriously? All that for a piece of paper?
Let’s say a college decides to send me a free degree in the mail. No attendance required. No wait. No price tag. I stay in the comfort zone I’ve known for 18 years. I get a degree right now—not four or five years from now! Can it get any better than this?
But here’s the truth: I wouldn’t accept it. Why? Because college isn’t about the degree you receive, it’s about the experience and wisdom you acquire throughout the journey. Where I go to college and what I study aren’t nearly as important as what God wants to accomplish in my life over the next several years. And you can say the same in your situation.
Like the Israelites, God has a promise for you. But like the Israelites, you must brace yourself for the journey. As the saying goes, “Life isn’t handed to you on a silver platter.” That’s true. It takes work. It takes a journey. It takes perseverance. Otherwise, you would get to the promise and lack the necessary skills and wisdom to serve God faithfully.
From a prison cell, Paul writes, “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns” (Phil. 1:6 NLT).
Your promised land awaits. Just keep walking when life is slower than Moses.
Isaiah Pauley is a senior at Wahama High School. He can be followed at www.isaiahpauley.com, or on Facebook at Isaiah Pauley Page.