Do you ever head in to an event thinking you’re totally prepared, only to arrive and find out that you’re not as prepared as you thought you were? Or that you prepared in the wrong way? The Israelites were certainly full of mistakes during their early history…but this passage in particular caught my attention recently:
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.
And the people of Israel went up out of the land of Egypt equipped for battle.
God’s people assumed they knew His plans for their Exodus. They assumed it would be the straighter, bloodier path through the land of the Philistines. They assumed they would need to be equipped for a physical battle. But God had a different plan for them — a more refining plan. His plan involved preparation for a spiritual battle, not a physical one. He needed to teach total reliance on Him, even when things differed from the expectations on the ground.
You see, God knew what His people needed in order to develop as a people honoring to Him. If the Israelites had gone straight through the land of the Philistines and come out as the glorious conquerors, they never would have experienced Manna from heaven, water from the rock, or so many other blessings and lessons God had in store for them. They may have become falsely reliant on their own strength, convinced they could fight and win battles on their own, without God’s help.
As we’re getting to know the ministry here in Romania, we’ve been blessed to see how Felipe and Janelle Silva have gracefully lived out the reality of seeking God’s plan, even when that plan might be different than expected. The Silvas always had the idea of a youth sports ministry in the back of their minds, but when they got serious about making plans, God provided a different kind of building, a different location, and different community needs to be met.
Today the Silvas run a bouldering/climbing gym in one of the poorest communities of the Jiu Valley (the neighborhood is called Dallas, in the city of Vulcan). The children here are lucky to complete 8th grade and the unemployment rate is somewhere between 25% and 60%. The state-owned heating company went broke, so most of their community used space heaters or other improvised heat to survive the winter last year. It’s obvious from even a short time here that the people need tools to help them succeed in life; they need to see the Gospel lived out and hear it told in a compelling way.
Janelle & Felipe are doing this by being an example to the 50+ kids at their gym in how to conduct themselves, by using their family life as a ministry to better the relationships of other couples and families in Dallas, and by sharing the Gospel in unique ways that are meaningful & impactful to the men, women, and children of the Jiu Valley.
I’d ask that you join with me in prayer this week for Janelle & Felipe, for their ministry in Lupeni and the Jiu Valley, and for the remainder of our time together.