I was in junior high when we got the classic Nintendo. My brothers and I would spend hours playing “Super Mario Bros.” To win, you had to conquer eights worlds with four levels each. I remember when my dad would play, he would try to go through all four levels of each eight worlds. We would get so upset at him for taking the long way. We’d say, “But, Dad! If you go down that tunnel, you can skip to the fourth world.” He refused to do it, and thought any other way was an illegitimate way to beat the game.
We couldn’t understand why he did it the hard way when clearly there were shortcuts to win. The problem became that I, like many others, took that same philosophy in my approach to God. Why do it the hard way if there were shortcuts? Why not find the easiest path to walk as a Christian? I can attest that taking shortcuts to God only pushes you further away and back to the beginning. There is no shortcut to Him or to living the life He’s called us to live.
In Matthew 7:13-14, Jesus said, “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” (MSG). He was warning us to stay away from those shortcuts like the tunnels that skipped levels in the game. Just because they’re there, and other people are taking them, it doesn’t mean we should take them.
A life of faith, and trusting God, is not an easy path. We walk by faith and not sight, remember? There’s no shortcut through a life like that. God’s desire for each of us is to mature in our faith through the process of walking it out daily. It is often vigorous and difficult at times. It can be hard to trust His path when we can only see what’s right in front of us. However, if we remain faithful, take each step as He gives it, and trust Him, we will have a faith that is strong and unshakable. We will find true life.