I love Hope St. Teresa. She’s my son’s 16 month old German Shorthaired Pointer. But, sometimes when I watch her for him, she wears me out. And, I am sure at 10 years old, our GSP, Joy St. Clare, feels the same way. :—) A typical day includes walking Hope about 8 miles.
So, I wondered if there might be an easier way to exhaust Hope without taking such long walks? Nope! She’s an energetic dog that God made to run through fields looking for birds from sunrise to sunset. A shorter walk simply means too much energy at home. I have learned that there is no shortcut to giving Hope the exercise she needs.
Recently Gary and I attended a conference in a large resort hotel. We had to navigate long corridors, small elevators, and a catacomb of twists and turns to get from our room to the meeting area. It took us about 15 minutes to traverse the complex to and from our 15th floor room. One time we thought we were taking a shortcut and ended up adding time to our journey. We wanted a quicker path to arrive at our daily destination. Unfortunately, only a singular extended route would get us where we needed to go.
Have you ever taken a shortcut? Perhaps it proved effective for you, but more often than not, when I take a shortcut, consequences await. For example:
- Have you ever thrown a shirt into the dryer to give it a head start in drying before pulling it out to hang dry? But, then you forgot about the dryer and it either shrunk or ended up a wrinkled mess?
- Have you ever tried to maneuver around traffic, only to find your shortcut actually amounts to a longcut?
- Have you ever taken the drive thru line to speed up dinner, only to wait longer than if you’d fixed a simple dinner at home?
- Have you ever microwaved something intended to cook in the oven, only to discover mushy chewy food?
- Have you ever used a timesaver when planning an event, only to find yourself undoing and redoing your efforts?
We often take a shortcut in hopes of accelerating something. A “shorter, alternative route” seems the best option at times when we feel rushed or worn out by the demands of time and people. However, I am learning little gain actually occurs when taking a shortcut. Regrettably, the outcome often sets me back instead.
Examples of shortcuts gone awry exist in the Old Testament. Abraham and Sarah endeavored to take a shortcut to produce the descendant promised by God. Their plan involved a servant girl named Hagar, an illegitimate child named Ishmael, and a future filled with turmoil and angst (see Genesis 16). Saul failed to trust God in His silence, so instead disguised himself and sought wisdom from a witch in Endor (see 1 Samuel 28). Saul’s shortcut resulted in a proclamation of war, destruction, and the loss of a kingdom. These biblical characters attempted to seize control over God’s ways by taking a shortcut.
What others shortcuts do you see in God’s Word?
I love Jesus words in Matthew 7:13-14, as translated in The Message; “Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention.”
Do you seek shortcuts to spiritual growth? When are you tempted to follow “easygoing” formulas for life? How well do you submit your plans to the sovereignty of God? Are you willing to endure God’s formational paths which require complete focus?
God’s ways do not include shortcuts.
In the New Testament the apostle Paul specifically addresses the faulty view of making things happen quickly. He even describes the movement of the Holy Spirit as fruit in Galatians 5:22-23. When fruit remains attached to the branch for nutrients, speeding the process of becoming ripe is unthinkable. The vigorous journey with God produces beautiful “fruit” in His time, in the lives of His followers.
Paul covertly points to God’s processes in Romans 5, reminding God’s people that suffering produces perseverance, which leads to character formation and ultimately hope because of God’s great love (see Romans 5:3-5). Let’s give attention to the movements of God in and around us rather than seeking shortcuts.
Even James, Jesus’ brother, points out that wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace (see James 3:17-18). Often concealed from humankind’s finite minds, God’s methods remain a part of His sovereign plan for our spiritual growth. The timing in God’s ways reveal His greater purposes.
In what areas are you currently struggling to trust in God’s plans?
When shortcuts tempt you, remember the wise words found in Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not in your own understanding, in all of your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.” Lean into God’s process and do not become weary. Galatians 6:9 encourages the spiritual journey: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
Don’t give up; the shortcut just isn’t worth it!
Shortcuts may seem alluring, but in the end they commonly leave us frustrated and wanting. Enjoy the path God has set before you. He is trustworthy! His plan insists on vigor and alert living which grows stunning ripe fruit in His time.
Drips from the Word: Muse about these Bible verses. Let these truths impact your living.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Splashes from the Spigot: Drink from deep wells. Check out these suggested readings.
Andrew Murray. Abiding in Christ. Minneapolis, MN, 2003
Steven Stoffelsen. Trusting God’s Timing: Standing in Faith While You Wait. Winnipeg, MB, Canada. 2017.
Puddles for Prayer: Thank you for praying for upcoming travel and speaking engagements.
November 3 – Lakewood, CO
Speaker, Hearts of Mercy at The Bridge Church at Bear Creak