No Shortcuts

twopathsWhen I was in grad school at Florida I overheard some of the faculty talking about running. They were going to run a 4 mile race in a couple of months and were going to start training together for it. I told them I was interested to join them so we started running together. I met up with them on some old trails around Gainesville a couple of times but honestly, I didn’t really train very hard. They did. They were ready for the race. I wasn’t.

So here we are at the starting line of a 4 mile race and I’m unprepared. When the gun went off I did what most people do at the start of a race, I took off and got out in front of them. Why do we do that? It’s like trying to drive 1000 miles on a quarter tank. You should know that isn’t going to work out from the start but still we do it.

About two miles in my side really started hurting and my legs didn’t feel any better. I could either slow down but I knew the risk of those old guys passing me was pretty high. Instead of swallowing my pride and letting them beat me, I took a shortcut and ran off in the woods for a while. I never saw them. They never saw me. I wasn’t ever passed, my pride seemed to be intact…but at the cost of my integrity. Really, I had nothing to be proud of when that race was done. They were prepared and I wasn’t. They ran the full four miles and I have no idea how far I actually ran.

There aren’t shortcuts when it comes to things like faith and integrity. Obedience is a long road and it takes training and perseverance. There are times our pride will take a hit for owning up to reality but that is necessary. Jesus was faced with a lot of shortcuts (the wilderness temptations, the 5000 who wanted to make him king and even Peter telling him he wasn’t going to die on the cross). Jesus even asked for a shortcut in the Garden and God told him no. The path to glory and the empty tomb led right through the cross. Jesus calls us to carry our cross and follow him. If we teach people shortcuts around the cross they will take shortcuts in other areas of their faith as well.

About mattdabbs
I am a minister, husband, and father. My wife and I live and minister in Saint Petersburg, Florida. My primary ministry responsibilities include: small groups, 20s and 30s, involvement, and adult education.

2 Responses to No Shortcuts

  1. Gods plan for Jesus was to be born in a shabby spot, travel to a foreign country, come back to ‘hmoe’ country, ride on a donkey with people praising him, walk a road carrynig a heavy load being spit upon, bleed, and die, and then walk back to familiar roads to reencourage folks to keep walking on that narrow path.
    Lately I noticed the symbolism of the honorary road he went on a donkey and just a few days later was traveling a lonely unceremonious walk to his death…I like how you put it – ‘through the cross’ – since thats not the end of the journey.

  2. John says:

    Good post. I believe a key in accepting and participating in the arduous spiritual journey that God’s reality calls us to is the reading material that ministers must make themselves tackle and challenge the people in the pew to do the same. In many churches the only material that the people read are the books for Sunday and Wednesday Bible studies, and most of these are recycled every few years.

    What is needed are church leaders who will exhort the people to read material which will stretch their minds, and, quite frankly, their consciences. Books that simply spoon feed their readers with “feel good generalities” regarding church and the morality that they already feel is their expertise only create an illusion of growth. Material that simply reminds them to not do what they are already not doing feeds only the ego. But when one delves into pages that drag, as uncomfortable that may be, the so-called morale person into the questions of compassion, mercy, and justice, when the reader is challenged to see Christ in the faces of those outside his or her culture, when the reader is made to see God in those whom were looked upon in the past as disgusting and revolting, then the reader will know he or she has been presented with choices that cannot be ignored; and that is when growth happens, when you cannot shake free from what you have just faced.

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