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Summary: When life gets complicated, make it simple. Just follow God, believe God, and walk with God in the direction He leads.

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Doug Lansky was a travel writer and photographer for many years during which he has collected photos of odd signs from around the world. Here are some samples:

Here is a blue sign with white letters. It reads: “Pakistan-Narcotics Control Board Investigating Unit.” Notice what’s in front of the sign almost obscuring it – a big bunch of marijuana.

Then there’s this yellow diamond-shaped sign from Mill Valley, California. It says, “Not a Through Street,” but right below it is a blue circle with a white arrow pointing straight ahead with the words, “Evacuation Route.” I sure hope I don’t have to leave this place in a hurry.

Look at this white highway sign in Monroeville, Pennsylvania. It says, “Entrance Only / Do Not Enter.” Now what do I do?

How about these two signs in Loleta, California: “No Parking” & “Park Here.” I wonder: should I stay or should I go?

This one is interesting. A sign in South Lake Tahoe says, “Be Prepared to Stop.” But look at the sign right beyond it: “No Stopping Anytime.”

And finally, at a railroad crossing in Melbourne is this sign: “Emergency Exit.” It’s pointing straight up! I guess if all else fails, heaven is always an option. (Doug Lansky, www.Signspotting.com)

A lot of people are looking for signs to guide them through life, but those signs can be very confusing. Do I stay or go? Do I enter this path or not? Is there a way out if I get in trouble?

There are a lot of questions for which there are no easy answers. So what do you do when you don’t know what to do? How do you make the right choices? How do you choose what’s best among many options?

It was a predicament the Israelites faced after 430 years of slavery in Egypt. For 430 years they had slave-drivers telling them what to do 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Then all of a sudden, in one night, the Israelites were free from Egyptian bondage. And all of a sudden, they had to make decisions for themselves. For the first time in 430 years, they had choices, but choices can be overwhelming to a people not used to making choices.

What is the best choice? Which way do I go? And how do I decide? Are these the kind of questions you have? Then I invite you to turn with me to Exodus 13, Exodus 13, where we find out what to do when we don’t know what to do.

Exodus 13:17-18 When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. 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 armed for battle. (NIV)

They may have gone out of Egypt “armed for battle,” but God knew they were not ready for war. The shortest route to the Promised Land was the military road of the Egyptians, along the Mediterranean Sea, but that was heavily guarded by Egyptian soldiers. Furthermore, the shortest route took them through Philistine territory, but the Philistines were very warlike, and they would not have hesitated to go to war to keep the Israelites out. Israel might have left Egypt feeling strong and mighty, but God knew better, so He led them in the way He knew was best for them – a longer and more difficult way through the desert.

Exodus 13:19 Moses took the bones of Joseph with him because Joseph had made the sons of Israel swear an oath. He had said, “God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up with you from this place.” (NIV)

Joseph had told them this nearly 400 years previously! But it’s a promise they never forgot, passed down over 40 generations from one generation to another.

Exodus 13:20-22 After leaving Succoth they camped at Etham on the edge of the desert. By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people. (NIV)

God guided them all the way with a pillar of cloud during the day that turned into a pillar of fire at night. All Israel had to do was follow His lead.

Exodus 14:1-4 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites to turn back and encamp near Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea. They are to encamp by the sea, directly opposite Baal Zephon. Pharaoh will think, ‘The Israelites are wandering around the land in confusion, hemmed in by the desert.’ And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them. But I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord.” So the Israelites did this. (NIV)

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