My father was the master of taking shortcuts ... or so he thought. He lived on an endless quest to find the fastest route between all of the distances he traveled. My mom used to kid him that most of his shortcuts ended up turning into longcuts, to which he would respond, "The shortest distance between two points is a straight line."
The Christian life is the ultimate straight line. The line starts with dead rebels at Point A and ends with people alive and reformed into the likeness of Christ at Point B. God has redeemed us from the jungle of our rebellion, lust, autonomy, foolishness and self-focus and placed us on the narrow pathway of his Son.
The problem, however, is that our living seldom follows a straight line. You and I take daily detours of thought and desire that move us off the path that God has placed us on by his grace. There are three main reasons I can think of why we get diverted.
The trip to where God is taking us is not an event - it's a process - and the process isn't accomplished overnight. God will call us to wait for seemingly no reason. He won't reveal his secret will to us when we ask. We grow confused and impatient, and thinking we know better than God, we convince ourselves that there's a better way.
The path on which God has placed us won't be filled with comforts and pleasures. The road of redemption takes us through the heat of the sun, through storms and cold, and through the dark of night. In fear, we abandon the map, and in pain, we follow detours that we think will alleviate the suffering we're experiencing.
We want to blame our wandering on the harsh conditions of the straight and narrow path, but the reality is that we wander because we have wandering hearts. Be honest: our hearts aren't fully committed to God's glory and Christ's kingdom. We still enjoy the temporary pleasures that sinful decisions can bring. You see, we're magnetized to outside temptations because we still have a heart that feels the pull of sin.
As difficult of a reality as this is, we shouldn't be surprised! After all, Jesus did say, "The way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few." (Matthew 7:13-14, ESV)
What about you today? Are you allowing yourself to be surprised by the difficulties that come as a result of walking on the straight and narrow? Do you need to reset your expectations of what life will be like as a redeemed child of God?
But perhaps more importantly, have you forgotten that you're on the pathway to life? In inexplicable mercy, God reached down from heaven to save us from destruction and set us aside for eternal life. Yes, the straight and narrow is hard, but heaven is coming, and we're walking towards the gate.
Now that's a reason to continue!
- How have you responded poorly to the painful process of redemption this week?
- What are several disciplines that you can pursue to keep you encouraged as you walk along the straight and narrow?