Taking the Long Way in a Shortcut World

So, you know I work in the fitness center at the Y (God’s still laughing at that one). I’ve lost over twenty pounds in the process and was enjoying the loose fit of my sweat pants until I had an unfortunate encounter with a recumbent bike and pantsed myself before a shocked room full of afternoon regulars working out on cardio machines.

I was rushing (needlessly) through the room and being the naturally lazy soul I persist in being, I decided to take a shortcut to the paper towel dispenser by squeezing between two members on recumbent bikes. The pocket of my over-sized sweats got caught on the side adjustment handle of one of the bikes and when I moved forward, my pants slipped half-way off down my thighs.

That’s right. We’re now a full –service Y, providing even a floor show to keep our members coming back!

Thankfully, my pants hiked up as quickly as they came down and I made a hasty retreat to the seclusion of my office until the memory of my blue- and -green striped Hanes could fade from the minds of the amused audience.

You’d think by my age, I would have learned my lesson about taking shortcuts. But I had to – literally – get caught with my pants down to commit myself to giving them up altogether. Let me tell you, God is a big advocate of taking the long way and He’s right.

In the workout world, everyone is looking for a shortcut. Everyone wants to know the fastest way to lose weight, the quickest workout to get into shape or the most efficient plan for total physical health. The truth is that lasting physical change takes old fashioned work and there are no shortcuts to developing new habits.

Quite often, people come to me at the Y straight from a scary doctor’s visit. “How do I fix this fast?” is the essence of their questions. There is no fast. There is no magic. There is no quick fix. Doing the hard work of change is what’s required. Take the long way, I tell them, take the long way.

The same is true when it comes to developing spiritual muscle. Everyone wants to know the fastest, easiest route to building a relationship with God. Five minutes in His presence and you get the notion that “fast” and “easy” are not words He holds in high esteem when it comes to knowing Him. This is the God who chooses to spread the news of Jesus Christ person to person starting with a bunch of fisherman who lived long before mass communication!

Often, a crisis will send us to our knees crying “Make me close to You! Give me enduring strength! Make me able to persevere! Yesterday!” But there is no shortcut to depth of relationship.

Peruse the scriptures – you’ll see lots of references to shepherding sheep, growing food, deep-water fishing and running long-distance races. Very slow activities. Lots of steps, lots of discipline, lots of waiting. No shortcuts.

I always think I’m smarter than other people. When I was working on writing a novel, I would read books on the craft and learn about some important part of the process and think – “Oh, I can write a quality story without doing all of that.” During the revision I did of my first attempt at the book, I ate those words again and again as I went back and did all the steps I skipped in the first place. This became my mantra: “Love the long way. Take the long way. Do the work.”

Eugene Peterson wrote a book on discipleship called “A Long Obedience in the Same Direction”. This book celebrates taking the long way to maturity in Christ. Ironically, I’ve heard no fewer than five speakers refer to the powerful message of the title of Peterson’s book and then confess that they have not yet made the time to read it!

We live in an age that worships the shortcut. We celebrate shortcut experts. We are the people of the shortcut. But we were created by the God of the long way.

Jeremiah 6:16a says this: “This is what the LORD says: ‘Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.’” And this is how you will know which way is the right way: it will look long, arduous and seldom traveled.

Are you a lover of shortcuts or are you willing to take the long way? As for me and my pants, we are lovers of the long way.


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18 Comments

    The Conversation

  1. Vonnie says:

    funny story…good application!

    Yes, I find this generation has no patience.
    So sad…

  2. Andrea says:

    Thank you for sharing! What an application for each of us….no shortcuts!
    Blessings, andrea

    PS: i have been missing you, lately. Congratulations on the weight loss.

  3. Thanks for popping in, Vonnie!

    Andrea, hope you are well. Miss seeing your comments, too!

  4. Anonymous says:

    As a wise man (Dave Ramsey) has said, “Every time I read ‘The Tortoise and the Hare’, the tortoise wins.”

    🙂

  5. Fancy Nancy says:

    LORI: I now have you linked to my blog. I figured it out. Thanks from Fancy Nancy

  6. Slow and steady, Mike!

    Keep up the good work, Nancy!

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. Joe Crowley says:

    OK. I won’t do short cuts, you don’t do thongs. Deal?

    You’re great with what you are willing to share to make it real, and a real point. Not too many would bare it all, well, almost all. Keep living, keep writing, to the Glory of God!!!

  9. Deal!

    You forget I don’t sign up to star in any of these stories. Believe me, these adventures are authored by God!

  10. ~*Michelle*~ says:

    Hey there! So happy that God led me here this morning…….(I saw your link from Andrea’s place……the Rhode Island caught my eye…..born and raised there)

    We def. live in an instant gratifying world….and although God will meet and love us instantaneously….the time that we build our relationship with Him is the true timeless journey.

    I can tell I will back……I love your style of writing…..it’s like heavenly humor!

  11. Phoenix says:

    Absolutely perfect word for me today! Thanks!

  12. Anonymous says:

    Lori,
    When I first met you at the “Y” I saw a good natured real person. As time went on I realized that there was more to you than that good natured , encouragind staff member. You are a real power of example which led me to read your blog (I am the worlds leading doubting Thomas.)
    Most self proclaimed spiritual people have been , in my experience, small minded, petty, and judgemental.
    Lori, your blog has been leading me in a new direction. Your insights into real life applications to the scriptures have led me to the beginings of some kind of faith. Thanks, John

  13. Welcome, Michelle! I hope you will visit again. Love to have fellow Rhode Islanders along (even if you’ve relocated!). Look forward to seeing you again!

  14. Hi Phoenix, Trust all is well with your soul today. Good to have you over!

  15. John, God is in pursuit of you and longs to have a relationship with you. I’m so glad you’re moving closer to that! Press on!

  16. Diana says:

    Oh Lori, so funny! Wow I do not envy you in that experience at the Y. I can identify with the big pants, though. I am there now too.
    So true what you said about the long road. What is the rush to take short cuts these days? What a wonderful scripture to go with this story. I love it!

  17. Anonymous says:

    I was once one of those speakers who would quote that title. Now that I’ve read the book (on the Psalms of the Assent) twice I can tell you it is well worth reading!