There is a road we frequently travel on. It's the more direct way and less busy road into the city. It takes us to the ring road which is almost always guaranteed to be free of stop and go traffic. The drive offers a nice mountain view, sunsets at the right time of day and beautiful golden fields of canola at certain times of the year.
Not long ago, we were driving, and my toddler blurted out with some gusto, "I don't like this road! I only like Stoney Trail."
I glanced back in the rear view mirror a bit surprised. After all, how does a 3-year old even know what road we are on, let alone have an opinion about it?
I inquired, "Why don't you like this road?"
Toddler logic proclaimed that Stoney Trail had more people on it, more houses to see and more cars to drive with. She couldn't quite specify what she disliked about the current road we were traveling on, but had her mind made up.
My reply was, "This road will take us where we need to go so we have to drive on it."
She made this declaration more than once, traveling this less preferred highway. I think it took a bit of convincing to realize there was no short cut to her road of choice and that it would in fact lead us straight to where she wanted to go.
I couldn't help but think there are some places we want to go in our lives and some end results that we desire. Better marriage. More intimacy. Less debt. More self-control. More joy. More authentic relationships. More God. Less selfishness. Less busyness. Greater contentment. Great kids.
Often when we are given directions to get there, (ie. God's Word and instruction to us), our response I want to get there but I would prefer if it were not this way. I don't like this road.
I told my little fireball that day, there are no shortcuts.
Lately, God has been impressing upon me this theme of walking in freedom and living abundantly. As I'm learning, there are no shortcuts, substitutions, or exemptions.
He's given me a lot of instructions of how to get there, but I can't pick and choose what I'm going to follow if I want to get there. Obedience to the truth is the way.
I'll confess, I'm a bit of a quiet rebel. If I don't agree with or like something, I won't necessarily declare out loud (like my little one) I don't like this! I'll subconsciously exempt myself from it in thought, word or action.
This lovely paragraph hit me smack dab in the pride last night:
We often don't see our violation of God's principles as the way into the mess we are in, nor do we see obeying his principles as the way out. Adam and Eve overtly doubted God's rules and believed the serpent's temptation of, "Did God really say that?" and "Surely you will not die." We don't do that out loud. Our doubting is much more subtle, and subconscious, but deadly nevertheless.
I'm not always aware of my own rebellion which makes it hard to admit. What I tend to see is, I'm just trying to find a different way. These shortcuts I'm tempted to take aren't new. In fact, they typically follow the same pattern as the original temptation. I'm just not adept at recognizing it when it happens.
Did God really say, wives respect your husbands? Surely it won't kill your marriage if you don't do it all the time. Only do it when you feel he is deserving. Surely nagging and disrespecting him is the way to provoke change and get what you want. It won't kill his spirit or cause your marriage to suffer.
Did God really say, do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouth but only what is useful for building others up that it may benefit those who listen. Surely it won't suffocate your relationships and tear down those you love if you give them a piece of your mind every once in a while.
Did God really say, be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other just as in Christ God forgave you? Surely your heart will be unaffected if you harbor unresolved anger, unforgiveness and bitterness towards those closest to you.
No matter how subconscious this process, it's still all a lie.
I can go about it buffet-style, applying what I want when I want, or I can realize that the truth applies to every situation and relationship. My toddlers. My husband. The people I work with. Adding a bit of humour doesn't exempt me. Having my feelings hurt doesn't exempt me. Feeling frustrated or justified doesn't exempt me.
Obedience to the truth is the road I must travel if I want the kind of relationships God intended for me, with Him and with others.
There are no shortcuts to the good life. Obedience to truth is theway to freedom and abundant life.
The relationships and circumstances that God calls you to are a necessary part of the process in bringing you back to life.
If you stick on the road less pleasing and less traveled for long enough, you may eventually find yourself on Stoney Trail.