Excuses and shortcuts

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My husband was speaking to his French class yesterday… “I am having a little trouble adapting from the military world to the classroom. Why do I keep hearing excuses? All I want to know is did you do your homework or not? I could care less why you did not do it, if your dog ate it, you had a football game, or anything else. Did you do what I asked you to do or not?”

Ah, such clarity! I wonder sometimes if my obedience to God would be easier if He just boomed down from heaven “Did you do what I asked?” For indeed, we are held accountable for all that we have done and left undone.

The challenge for me is that obedience is not usually fun, it is hard work. It often requires pain,and perseverance down a long road with no immediate end in sight. (Kind of like parenting!) I belong to the generation of instant gratification. I want to succeed now, to have all the glory… but none of the blood, sweat, and tears.

“Developing resilience is demanding, mostly done in secret, often humbling, and not always fun.” -Gordon Macdonald, A Resilient Life

Early every morning I go out for a run. I don’t like running particularly, but I am trying to get back in shape before my 40 something year old body declares that it is too late. And so once a week I add a little extra mileage, trying to stretch my endurance and my ability. I hope one day it will pay off. One day it might even be fun. Ha.

But here’s my problem, on the way back home I come to a pond, I can see my house across theway, and I have a choice. I take the shortcut through the grass and my neighbor’s driveway, or I can run all the way around the pond and the rest of the long block on the road and finish in my own driveway. Every day I have to choose – the shortcut, or the proper way with the full distance. And I have to make that choice at near the end of my run. Sigh.

Shortcuts are so tempting. I am tempted by them daily – in my spiritual, social, physical, and moral life. But while shortcuts bring temporary satisfaction, they do not produce righteousness and endurance.

“Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes… goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly… No I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.” 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

Shortcuts are like building your castle on a foundation of sand. The wind and the waves will wash it away and your excuses will be meaningless words that no one wants to hear.

Stop making excuses. Stop taking the shortcut. Do the right thing, the hard thing. Persevere. Don’t forget how the story ends. Don’t lose sight of what will endure. Labor for that which has eternal value!

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