When 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.