The “Long” Shortcut (Part 1): A Slave To A Prime Minister

The Cambridge dictionary defines a shortcut as a route more direct than the usual route or a quicker way of doing something. It is a faster or shorter way of getting to a place. Humans naturally lean towards shortcuts at the slightest opportunity, even with apparent risks and danger. It is often argued why we waste precious time and resources to achieve what can be achieved within the shortest possible time. Therefore, systems in the service and manufacturing sectors are constantly exploring ways to shorten processes to achieve efficiency and maximize profitability. In like manner, God, the creator of the entire universe in record time, would be the first to opt for the best, effective, and efficient way of executing every aspect of His Kingdom business.

Unfortunately, there seems to be a popular assertion that God is not too interested in shortcuts, even if they appear to be risk-free and the obvious way out of the affairs of His children. One scripture usually picked out of context to back that assertion can be found in Exodus 13:17. It reads, “When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter.” Although God is the most significant stakeholder of our walk with Him, believers more often than not behave and pretend as though they are more concerned about productivity in God’s vineyard business than He. The objective of this write-up, which is in six parts, is to critically examine how God’s ways, which may appear long and impossible, always turn out to be the shortest route toward set goals. Lessons will also be gleaned regarding maintaining the needed composure when traversing the humanly “long” hauls when God leads using some Biblical illustrations.

God called Abraham and established His covenant with him and his descendants. Per the blueprint, they would be in Egypt for 400 years, after which He would bring them back to possess the Land of their inheritance (Genesis 15:13-16). The stay in Egypt by the Israelites was, therefore, not an afterthought or mere coincidence. His brothers’ sale of Joseph to Egypt fulfilled God’s word to Abraham, his great-grandfather. It all started as a household altercation between brothers but ended with the groundbreaking ceremony of the Israel project in Egypt, according to God’s calendar of events. Per his credentials at the young age of seventeen, Joseph was a Hebrew Shepherd with an entry visa as a slave who also could not speak the Egyptian language. Indeed, his profession was even an abomination in his host country of Egypt. The opportunities for Joseph to have a smooth stay as a slave in Egypt were, therefore, nonexistent. How was he going to free himself as Potiphar’s slave? And when would that ever happen, let alone enroll in the educational curriculum of the Egyptians in the hope of a better life?

Every hope of ever getting close to partake in the domestic politics of the Egyptians was also negligible because he was a slave of Pharaoh’s officials. Joseph was neither on any scholarship in Egypt nor receiving any stipends from his family in Canaan. Indeed, back home in Canaan, they knew he was dead, with his name possibly struck out from all records. Therefore, Joseph’s past as a beloved of his father was totally disconnected, and so were his future and prospects of living any meaningful life in Egypt. However, on the wheels of his fear and dedication to the God of his ancestors, God connected him to serve in Potiphar’s house. After passing a tricky test of Faithfulness and Self-Control, God ushered him to serve in Pharaoh’s prison custody (Genesis 39:20). Incidentally, two of Pharaoh’s servants were brought in as inmates for various offenses. Eschewing all bitterness, Joseph Joyfully interpreted his friends’ disturbing dreams, which led to the release of one and the execution of the other.

Joseph expected the Chief amour-bearer to speak on his behalf to power for a possible review of his charge sheet so he could be freed and return to work as a slave. Yet for two years, he lavished in prison custody and was forgotten by his inmate friend. When we rely on the remembrance of our fellow humans, we can only go back and work as slaves. However, when God remembers us, we work as masters in enlarged territories. The King of Egypt then had an alarming dream which called for urgent attention from all available helpers. That was when his friend mentioned him to the King. Joseph appeared before Pharaoh, and again Joyfully allowed God to use him to help the King and his subjects. Before he could say, “Thank you, King, for the opportunity,” and possibly return to prison custody, Pharaoh lifted Joseph to the position of the Prime Minister of Egypt. Wow! Did Mr.& Mrs. Potiphar hear well from Pharaoh the King? How was that possible? Joseph’s master and his wife would now serve under his rule. Had Joseph read Law, Economics, Agriculture, or Political Science? No! All he had read were faithfulness, Joy, the fear of God, and Self-Control. Do people get to their destination through such a shortcut with these credentials? Yes. Joseph would not have gotten anywhere close to the corridors of Egyptian power if he had pursued his political career from the grassroots.

Indeed, as a non-citizen, the electoral laws would even deny him any such opportunity. The shortest route for Joseph to become a Prime Minister of Egypt with an entry visa as a slave was that “long” distance in the fields of Dothan into the pits and in the Ishmaelite’s caravan to Potiphar’s house and the Prison experience. Even though God had spoken about this Egyptian trip hundreds of years before, Joseph’s exhibition of Faithfulness, Joy, and Self-Control were the fruits of the Spirit that propelled him to fulfill God’s prophecy in His life.

From the above illustration, we can firmly conclude that what humans call a long path toward success is God’s shortcut for His children. We have also realized that while many depend on their qualifications and hard work to occupy positions of trust, others see that as a rather long journey full of uncertainties. They thus resort to backbiting, lobbying, feminine power, and elimination of supposed competitors by rough tactics, which come with their inherent disappointments and miseries. God, however, knows the shortest but safest route to the assigned blessed destinations of all He calls His children. His route doesn’t take time; it saves it instead for all who put their trust in Him.

William L. Hogan once said, “God is under no obligation to explain or defend Himself to us. His ways are often perplexing and sometimes very painful, but be sure of this: God Himself has brought you to that difficult spot, and He makes no mistakes. We must rest assured that He knows what He is doing, even when we do not, and that He does everything well.” However, When God chose to use the Red Sea route for Israel instead of the shortcut, He explained His rationale to them. “For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt. So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of Egypt ready for battle.” (Exodus 13:18).

Many believers, unfortunately, elongate God’s shortcut for them by the choices they made and by their lifestyles but turn around to make blasphemous comments about God and create disaffection for Him. Israel would not have spent 40 years in the wilderness for that journey to the promised Land. Those years could be best described as imprisonment or punishment and must not be added to the total mileage from Egypt to Canaan. God punished them to wander about until all over 20 years perished, except for Caleb and Joshua.

There can be no one who needs productivity in God’s vineyard than Himself. Therefore, there will always be good reasons, primarily out of the reach of human comprehension, why the apparent delays are loaded with intrigues anytime God is in charge. He always proves Himself as the faithful one, with the end being extraordinarily glorious if only we are prepared to go the “long” haul with Him. Humankind’s way, perceived as a shortcut, is instead loaded with risk, uncertainties, and speculations founded on human wishes. The routes God uses are incomprehensible and inaccessible by humankind’s efforts. It is always viewed as long, although it is always the shortest and safest way to reach our destinations. His Grace and help are where He leads. Stay blessed.

Written by Pastor James Orhin Agyin

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