Following God in the Wilderness

Following God is learning how to how to walk with him, but not ahead of him. And it’s a lifelong process. In love he will lead us into the wilderness, often taking us ways we least expect, or want, to go. Over the next few posts we are going to look at lessons from the Exodus about following God in the wilderness.

When Pharaoh let the [Israelites] go, God did not lead them by the 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 towards the Red Sea. – Exodus 13:17-18

He Leads, We Follow

The way by the Philistines was nearer, but nearer wasn’t better. The children of Israel were learning who their God was, and who they were in Him.

You may also like: Part 2: Walking with God along the Dark Way

Leading them along the longer way, the wilderness way, was another example of the manifest wisdom of God. Moses and the million men, women, and children following him, and their bleating and lowing flocks and herds and hastily grabbed bowls full of unleavened dough were learning Lesson One in God’s primer: Trust Him. It’s a lesson they would have to return to again and again.

You may also like: Part 3: Learning to Walk with God: Going Forward by Going Back

He Leads in Love

God never leads His people by the obvious path. The nearer “way by the Philistines” is rarely the way the Spirit will lead us. God loves us too much to squander an opportunity to teach us dependence upon him. He wants to lead us, always, to Christ. We need not worry. He sees the dangers along life’s way we often do not. “He knows our frame and remembers we are but dust” (Psalm 103:14).

following God

The broad way maybe easier but the narrow way is best. The way of the wise isn’t the easy downhill but upward (Prov 15:24). The strait (difficult) way is reserved for His own, just as the impassable cup of divinely-appointed and undeserved wrath was the Father’s will for His Son. It is a holy privilege to be counted among the Lord’s people. Better to be numbered among them and led like them.


The Lord will lead his children in the wilderness way at times. Life will have its dark, uncertain, and unsettling moments. This is not the directing of an inefficient or capricious deity, but the loving way of our Lord and Father. The Lord is my Shepherd, David wrote, he maketh me to lie down in green pastures and leadeth me beside still waters. Whether it’s our first time or our thousandth time, may God lead us along the wilderness way for a time, but he does so in love, and always back to Lesson One: Trust Him.