Circling the Mountain

Image“Then we turned and set out for the wilderness by way to the Red Sea, as the Lord spoke to me, and circled Mount Seir for many days. And the Lord spoke to me saying, ‘You have circled this mountain long enough. Now turn north, and command the people saying…'”
–Moses, Deuteronomy 2:1-4b (emphasis mine)

I just started rereading Deuteronomy, the book where Moses recaps all that the people of Israel had experienced up until this point. I resumed my reading in chapter 2 today, and in just these few verses, I gained more insight into the strange (to me anyhow) ways of the Lord.


The first thing that popped out at me was the phrase: “as the Lord spoke to me.” It strikes me that Moses and the people of Israel were led step-by-step by God in their journey through the wilderness. Then, in the next breath, Moses reminded the people that they circled this mountain, Mount Seir, for many days because of what God (not Moses) said to do.

Many days.

Odd, don’t you think? To just be circling, and circling, and circling the same place…

Putting myself in the people’s shoes, it isn’t too hard to fill in the blanks of what wasn’t said. Remember, Moses is giving a recap, looking back on what had already taken place, but at the time, the Israelites were in the middle of this journey with God. And when you’re in the middle of a God-led journey, it can be a lot harder to see where it’s all going. You can count on your ability to understand your circumstances to fall short.

I wonder what the chatter among the people was as they circled the mountain yet again…

“Is Moses sure that God told him to make all of us, hundreds of thousands of us, circle around this same mountain over and over?!”

“Is he lost? We’re obviously not making any progress…”

Perhaps, a few wondered, “Maybe Moses has gotten a little cuckoo from the desert sun?”

“Did Moses hear God wrong? How do we know this supposed ‘Promised Land’ is even real?”

“This is a dumb waste of time. Plus, I’m hungry and getting tired of lugging around all this stuff! Can’t we just plant roots somewhere…anywhere?”

Hmmm… sound familiar?


How many times in our own lives does it feel like we’ve been circling and circling the same mountain? In the same difficult scenario? The same tedious job? The same family conflict? The same loneliness? The same illness? The same rejection? The same unanswered prayer that we desperately want God to finally address?

And while we wait on God to give us further instruction, to guide us, to lead us, to deliver us, the longer we “circle our mountain” so to speak, the greater our impatience grows at the seemingly ludicrous circumstances. As you go ’round yet again, does it ever make you wonder…

“God, isn’t it time to move on now? I’m so over this.”

“When are You going to change this situation already?”

“Do You even see me down here? Have You forgotten me?”

“Did I hear You right? I don’t know anymore.”

“This way we’re going looks kind of dumb to me, and it certainly looks ridiculous to everyone else! Maybe I need to come up with a plan B. Why don’t I try…?”

Know what I mean?

The question is, will we wait for the voice of our “step-by-step instructions” God?

Part 2: Step-by-Step Direction

One thought on “Circling the Mountain

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s