No return

In the Book of Exodus (13:17), when Pharaoh finally let Israel leave Egypt, ‘God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was nearer; for God thought, “If the people face war, they may change their minds and return to Egypt”’. There are two ways of reading this. Superficially, it may seem that the roundabout route was simply safer. But a deeper motive is at stake: had the way to newness been too direct, the incentive to return to a familiar setting in the face of opposition would have been too great. To maintain the incentive of God’s call, the impossibility of return was required. We find, here, a helpful paradigm for reading our lives in a supernatural perspective.