One Saturday morning I was on the way to attend a funeral. I left in plenty of time to get there so that I could visit with the family and then be at the memorial service. Suddenly, I was thrown into a situation that I was not sure that I could get around. I was on a road where they were having a race. I did not know if it was a five mile, 10 mile or 26 mile marathon. There I was creeping along and making sure that I avoided the runners who were scattered out over the entire way that I was traveling.
Having been one of those folks who had participated in some of those races, I was interested in what they were doing and watching the faces of the people who appeared to be in excruciating pain. Running will do that to you. The track that they were following was one of those that would take you out and back to where you started. So all of the runners would run to the end of where they were supposed to go, and then they would turn, loop around and head back toward the starting line which then would be the finish line.
As I drove slowly along watching these folks run the race, there were places all along the way that if they wanted to they could just cut across and start back taking a shortcut and actually cheating on the race. As I was making progress, I saw one person running all alone who came to one of those cut across places. It was probably two miles or so from where they were actually supposed to turn around. I watched as that runner took the shortcut and headed back to the finish line. Now I was certain that this runner was not going to be the winner, because where he was in the race he would not be in the first 200, 300 or maybe even in the first 500 people who finished. But that runner took a shortcut and headed back to the finish line.
I watched as there were people on the raceway all the way to the actual turn around. It looked like probably 100 to 150 people who this runner had moved in front of and that was not right. That was not fair or honest, but that is what that runner did. I did not know what the circumstances of the runner might have been. Maybe the runner was sick, needed to get home or thought he was at the turning point. I did not slow down, stop, holler or tell the runner not to do that, because I did not know what was happening. If the runner just cut across, took a shortcut and cheated, I realized that the only person who was being hurt or at least the main person that was being hurt was that runner.
Don’t study for the test and see what happens. Cheat on your diet and wrestle with how to explain that you have gained four pounds. Act as though you ran the entire race when you did not. Tell the doctor that you have been taking your medication regularly as prescribed when you know that you rarely ever do. The person most affected when you take the shortcut is you.
Sadly, even all of the powerful instructive words of Scripture do not seem to make an imprint on our hearts. But the shortcut takers who ended up in a mess are everywhere. Judas thought that the shortcut to success in life was to take the 30 pieces of silver and look where it got him. Samson thought that he was the exception and that he could just play around with sin, only to find out that his life was a sad and sobering wreck. Peter thought that he could get himself out of a tight situation by simply telling a little white lie only to experience the sadness of his wrong and the heartbreak of taking a shortcut.
The truth is that there are no shortcuts to a successful life. There is no shortcut to healthy spiritual living. There is no shortcut to eternal life with God. The singular and only way to life abundant and life everlasting is through a personal, on-going committed relationship with Jesus Christ. To take any other turn, to run down any other road, to find a quick and easy approach is to miss it all together. You come to Jesus in confession, repentance and faith. You come to Jesus and He alone is the answer for your life.