Angry at the Train

Angry at the Train

When Pharaoh 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

Every morning, I get up early and go to the gym, which lies on the other side of the train tracks. The other day, as I was returning home from the gym, in a hurry to get ready for work, I got held up by a train. Sitting at the crossing, I futilely prayed that the end of the train was near, but instead, it slowed down and simply stopped, blocking my route indefinitely. As I turned around to take the long way home, I was fuming. Stupid train! Maybe I’ve been watching too many superhero movies, but I found myself imagining what I’d do to that annoying train if I could smash it like the Hulk. Recognizing how absurd I was being, I prayed that God would use this experience to teach me patience. I’m not saying God purposefully put that train in my path to vex me that morning. I am saying that God used a frustrating experience to teach me something. I often pray that God would iron out all the wrinkles in my life, but God often uses those wrinkles to grow me into what he wants me to be.

This was the case in today’s passage. In the story, as God’s people fled Egypt, they likely imagined a direct route to the promised land. Apparently though, the shortest route crossed through the land of the Philistines, which would have meant violent opposition. God spared them this, taking them the long way around. This alternate route was not without its obstacles though. Eventually, God led them right up to the Red Sea, which they had no hope of crossing. God had a plan – to teach his people faith and obedience  – even though his people couldn’t see it at the time.

As I said, I often pray that God would make life go as I think it should. If I had my way, everything would work out perfectly for me all the time. God knows however, that I grow most through trials. He allows me to get stuck at the train, so that I may learn patience. I know that far greater trials will come in life. So, as I pray today, I try not to pray that life would be easy, but that God would use my life experiences to transform me into what he wants me to be. I pray that I’d be willing to learn, grow, and follow him – even when I’m stopped by the stupid train.

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