If you’ve read any blog of mine, you know they typically come from an unexpected moment of inspiration. This one is no different. This morning I was reading a book about improving communication skills as a public speaker. I came to a section that spoke of a technique called “WIIFY” (What’s In It For You). As I began to write this down in my notes, I wrote out “WIIFU”. Note the “U” instead of the “Y”. I realized immediately that this is from a texting shortcut, using the letter “u” rather than spending the painstakingly, grueling time to write out “y-o-u”. In fact, I almost got Carpel Tunnel just spelling it out that time!

It was then I was reminded of how much we look for shortcuts in everything we do. We wanna keep up with the fast-paced life, move quickly from one thing to the other, efficiency, efficiency, NEXT! It’s how some of us were raised, or how some of us even GET raises. We have been programmed to find easier ways to get life done. I’m all for squeezing as much into a period of time as I can, but when is a shortcut detrimental?

We choose ridiculous fad dieting or dangerous chemicals over getting off our butts and actually doing a few sit-ups or anything that may cause us to sweat a little.

As parents, we shortcut our kids by giving them what they want, softening rules or refusing needed discipline just to avoid a “situation”. (See Eli’s story in 1 Samuel 2 and 3)

As a spouse, we give a quick “I love you” thinking it should cover the gamut of emotional emptiness we have refused to acknowledge.

But what about spiritual shortcuts? Those are just as common and possibly more dangerous than any others. They trick us into thinking we are on the “road to redemption” when in reality we are headed to a wilderness resembling that of the Israelites of the Old Testament. Their “shortcuts” to holiness left them lost for 40 years rather than reaching their destination in 2 weeks. God had a clear, well-lit path for them, but they left the trail, thinking their empty religious habits would usher in God’s presence in a more timely way.

So, how can you know if you are taking spiritual shortcuts? Ask yourself these questions.

1. Do I read just one Bible verse a day (only because it’s sent to my phone) yet sit down and read half of “Certain number shades of a certain color” in just an hour?

2. Is church attendance designated only to two special holidays a year? I mean, I wanna get my scorecard checked off by God, just in case I end up on my deathbed tomorrow.

3. Do I pray only when the stack of bills reach a certain height or chaos has overtaken my life?

4. Do I throw money in the offering plate because I believe in supporting the vision of the church or because I heard a cool Bible story about receiving “100 fold” in return?

5. Is Jesus the center of my life or just a stunt double when things get rough?

I could go on and on with the analogies but I think you may already know your answer.

I call my father-in-law “Backroads Billy”. He can find any location via shortcut, especially a 7-11 with fresh coffee, anywhere on the face of the earth. He has a remarkable sense of direction and can shave 15 minutes off of any commute. However… there has been a time or two where we all looked at each other and hoped we would rediscover civilization.

Shortcuts in life can be faster and satisfy our need of time management. They can route us around the difficult things we don’t want to face. But… and here’s the “but”… sometimes you just end up, well, lost. The Israelites just went around and around and around. Their shortcuts to holiness only led them further away from God’s original trail. They never actually got closer to their destination, but further away from it!

What shortcuts are you taking with your family, career, lifestyle or with the path God has set before you? It may take a little more effort, but some things are worth getting sweaty over. Break the habit of finding the easy way out and be willing to spell out the whole word!

Proverbs 13:4 ”Lazy people want much but get little, but those who work hard will prosper.”

Earl Henning, Youth Pastor/Assistant Teaching Pastor, Cypress Point Community Church