Real Life Doesn't Come with Shortcuts

Sometimes I’m a lot more awesome at things in my head then I turn out to be in real life.

Like that time (last week) when I totally forgot to return our library books for a whole week after they were due, racking up a steep $.10 fee/book/day, while they sat idly on our living room floor and forgot to pay rent. All the while, I had awesome intentions of encouraging reading every day and beefing up comprehension and fluency during what little remains of the summer. In reality, none of it happened and, in fact, negligence has a price: it's about $35 dollars, to be exact. Ben says we just can’t go to the library anymore.

Sadly, we don’t live in a Lego Movie, and everything is not awesome all the time, which is just as well, actually, because those little ¼ in. x ½ in. cubes don’t leave any room for curves. We women would have about as much definition as a piece of lumber.

I also have this closeted ambition to learn the Just Dance moves to all the latest songs (and be really good at it, too, of course). I have visions of busting those bad boys out at a wedding and stealing the show to the shock and amazement of the onlookers, although writing that last sentence is the closest I’ll ever get to that reality due to my introverted tendencies. Then there’s the little issue of those dance moves requiring some coordination and rhythm while you execute them, and whenever I attempt to practice, it always ends up being a lot harder then it looks.

Or the time I tried positioning myself into a headstand after I had been diligently working out for several months. I figured, although my abs were still slightly hidden under a wee food baby (for warmth during the frigid spring weather, of course), that they were, presumably, strong enough to lift my lower extremities to the sky. So I assumed the position, head firmly planted on the ground supported by my arms, butt straight up in the air, and toes pointed on the ground, ready for ascension. Only when I went to lift my legs with my very well-trained abdominals, they wouldn’t budge. It was as if they were made of concrete and I was a tiny mouse, who foolishly imagined, for a minute, she had the strength of a forklift.

And then there’s the day I totally wiped out on my kitchen floor… Apparently, coordination is a pipe dream and exists only in the space between my ears.

Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention. {Matthew 7:13-14}

And I think so often my issue is this: I want the end result without the daily labor in the trenches. But the end is the result of daily labor in a lifetime of trenches.

I want to wake up one morning and somehow, by osmosis, have morphed into an organized, efficient yogi with enviable dance skills. Maybe a decent writer, too, while we’re at it. For that to work, however, I think I would have to stow people with all of those talents under my pillow for the night, so if you know of anyone who would be up for the challenge, send them my way. Because that’s not at all awkward or creepy.

That’s our culture though, isn’t it?

Drop 20 pounds in 7 days with this new mystery pill combination. It will only cost you a lifetime monthly subscription, but look at the whopping five people in equally mysterious weight-loss photos that it has worked for in the past. Results guaranteed(ish).

Article after online article that promise to turn your life, marriage, dating streak (or lack thereof), or financial situation around in 7 dummy-proof steps.

Get the latest this, the newest that, the trendiest color, the raise, the car the girl, the house, the job, and you’ll finally be better/happy/successful/fulfilled/complete, etc.

And sometimes, we are so desperate for a little Hope, just a little thread to grab onto that whispers the promise of change blowing in the wind, of the pit we find ourselves in suddenly not being so deep as to engulf us completely, but rather one that we could just step right out of if we had the right gimmick. The latest scheme.

Sometimes the pain is so deep that we reach for the quick Band-Aid instead of the healing salve, the deep tissue restoration. The Band-Aid, although it works for a time, is bound to lose the adhesive and fall off. Or worse, like a durable fabric Band-Aid left on too long, it adheres inseparably to the perfectly healthy dermis underneath and rips it off during the removal process, leaving fresh wounds in its place.

We forget, in our “get it now” culture, with the internet at our fingertips and multiple fast food restaurants, drug stores, supermarkets and malls within a short driving or walking distance, that the good things require us to wait. The things that are true, noble, praiseworthy, the things that are worth a lifetime of pursuit, require just that. The snippets of each day where you spend your valuable, fleeting time are going to add up to your life, your legacy.

As for me, I'd like to be able to say more for myself then I got really good at checking Facebook. You know, I was awesome at finding the lulls during my day where I could sneak in some extra screen time, and man, I could scroll down that Newsfeed like a boss. Or hey, I have 100,000 pins on a myraid of boards on Pinterest, none of which I ever even look at or utilize, because, you know, I'm too busy. Pinning.

Let's face it: there are some things that don't add to your life in the least but suck up your valuable time more efficiently then a Kirby vacuum. 

Knowing the correct password—saying ‘Master, Master,’ for instance—isn’t going to get you anywhere with me. What is required is serious obedience—doing what my Father wills. I can see it now—at the Final Judgment thousands strutting up to me and saying, ‘Master, we preached the Message, we bashed the demons, our God-sponsored projects had everyone talking.’ And do you know what I am going to say? ‘You missed the boat. All you did was use me to make yourselves important. You don’t impress me one bit. You’re out of here.

These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words, words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit—but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock. {Matthew 7:21-25}

In the end, many will find that it’s not the tasks that were important, but the relationships. Jesus will say to many who did good things, even great things in His name: You missed the boat. I never knew you.

There’s no shortcut to building a solid relationship. It takes time, effort, intentionality, and perseverance. Every day. Don’t let Satan steal your future with false promises of life and hope found somewhere other then Jesus today. There’s no quick fix to reach a depth attained by a lifetime of daily snippets. It’s not possible. But the pursuit of such a relationship with Jesus is worth your life, because in the end, it’s the only thing that matters. And it’s never too late to start.