Last summer I had the privilege of attending the YMCA World Mission Network Conference in Estes Park, Colorado. I planned my travel to arrive late morning at the conference center, providing me several hours of exploration in Rocky Mountain National Park prior to the start of the conference. After checking in, I headed to the Deer Mountain trailhead, hoping to make the summit in the time I had allotted. It was a beautiful day, and a spectacular hike with incredible views in every direction from the summit. A great way to kick off the week, and no better way to spend a few hours of free time.
Descending back to the trailhead that afternoon, I noticed a feature repeated just before each switchback on the trail. As I hiked further from the summit and closer to the trailhead, shortcuts began to appear in the trail; new, undeveloped connector trails that hikers had created, shortening the trail and providing a quicker route from the upper section of the trail to the one below. It’s something very common along trail systems in the mountains, and this trail was no different.
Shortcuts. We create them, look for them, and use them whenever we can. There are times when a quicker route pays off and is beneficial to us. But many times we miss all that God has in store for us when we take the shortcut. We’ll never reach our goal of running that marathon if we cut short our training plan. We’ll miss the gains in endurance when we shorten our journey. And we’ll soon find that our faith is weakened if we don’t persevere through the current trial, or storm we are facing. In everything, God has a plan for you, and it is for your good and His glory. So, by taking the shortcut, or praying that God would release you from your trial, you may miss His best for you, His plan to strengthen you.
“We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirt who has been given to us.” -Romans 5:3-5
Whatever you face today, know that God has not forgotten you. He is working out His plan for you, no matter how long and dark the trail ahead seems. Don’t spend your energy looking for the shortcut, but place your focus on Him, your shepherd and your provider.
I hiked past one of those shortcut trails on that summer afternoon and soon arrived at the switchback. I stepped off the trail and onto a rocky outcropping and gazed in awe of the beauty of God’s creation that surrounded me. In every direction was a spectacular view of the snow-capped Rocky Mountains and the valleys below. As I stood there, I wondered how many hikers missed this wonderful view because they opted for the shorter route.
There is joy and beauty in your journey today. Don’t shorten that journey by looking for a quicker way home. Just enjoy the journey God has given you this day, and make the most of it for His glory. He will not disappoint, He won’t forget to get you home safely, and you’ll not miss any of the views He planned for your journey.