Thursday, December 13, 2012

Why the Shortcut to Pain and Ruin?

As I went for my morning ride recently, I noticed someone walking the path ahead of me climb a rickety part of the fence in order to get where they were going, and presumably save time. I got to thinking, “I’ve done that sort of thing; taken that sort of shortcut.”
But then, God had me thinking about the philosophical issues of taking shortcuts in life. Like, taking shortcuts to joy where a substance is tried, which only redeem, later on, a painful addiction. Or, when we take a shortcut to peace and withdraw from life. Or again, even more tragic, running across a busy road.
But inevitably taking shortcuts is more about a lack of patience—a lack of moral diligence—than anything else.
We might even go as far as to say that living a godly life is all about patience; because patience bequeaths every good path that is born of faithfulness.
Striving for the Path of God
Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us to, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” (NRSV)
If only we had the situational insight to rely on God fully—all the time.
But that is the disciple’s task. If nothing else is achieved, all is good. For, as we rely fully on God, seeking his path in patience, every good way is opened up to us.
Striving for the path of God is putting away our temptation to climb the mangled fences of life that promise, conceitedly, to get us where we are going quicker. Such shortcuts do work a lot of the time, but the very time they don’t can prove disastrous.
We take great risks in taking our shortcuts in life. Sometimes we can’t undo the consequences.
Cyprian of Carthage (c. 200–258) identified Jesus as “perfect patience.” The more we are able to see God as the path to every good way, through patience, which is engorged of trust in God, beyond ourselves, the more we are able to live after Jesus in this way. Then, blessing.
Shortcuts promise much, but the risk is great when the shortcut ‘betrays’ us. Jesus was called “perfect patience”—he took every good way. If we will trust in the Lord with all our hearts, God will make straight our paths.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.

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