Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Beware: Shortcut Ahead

We've been looking at what David was like before he actually became king, and it's important to remember -- he has to wait about 16 or 17 years from the time Samuel anoints him until his coronation. Think about that: 16 or 17 years. And for the last 10 or so of those years, he finds himself a fugitive -- running from cave to cave.

Now, one of the worst things about living in a cave is you get discouraged. And when you get discouraged you become vulnerable to temptation. There is a connection between being in the cave and temptation because anything that promises relief -- even temporary relief -- starts to look good.

That's what happens in 1 Samuel 24. Saul finds out where David and his men are and pursues them. David and his men retreat into a cave. Saul has to answer nature's call, and he decides to "go" in the exact same cave where David and his men are hiding.

Saul is in a very compromising position here -- he's extremely vulnerable.

David's men say, "This is it! This is the day God promised. Remember, he promised you deliverance? Well, here it is! This must be what God wants. He doesn't want you unhappy and miserable in a cave. He wants you in the palace. Now, here's your chance."

How tempting must that have been? David realizes, I could get out of the cave right now. But what kind of message would that have sent? It would have told everyone that the way to become king in Israel is to kill the old king. That's not a good precedent to set -- especially when you're supposed to be the next king!

Here's the problem with shortcuts: they promise immediate relief, but it's usually short term. In the long run, they can bring misery that makes your cave look like a vacation destination.

Okay, I know some of you are in a cave right now. And there's a shortcut presenting itself. It's tempting. But you have a decision to make. Will you submit to God's will in God's timing? Or will you take the shortcut?

Maybe you feel alone because you've been single for a long time. Maybe your marriage is in the wilderness and another relationship has come along promising what you think you're longing for. It's tempting to think, "I could get out of this cave right now. This would feel so good. It must be God's will. He doesn't want me to be miserable and lonely for the rest of my life. He wants me to be happy, doesn't he?"

You can rationalize all you want, but you know -- this is a shortcut. It is not God's will for your life. It contradicts his desire for you. And your whole future hinges on whether you take the shortcut or submit to God's will in God's timing. Will you have the strength of David here and say, "As hard as this is, I will not take a shortcut out of this cave"?

Maybe it's a financial temptation or the temptation to deceive someone. It could be the temptation to ignore a pattern of behavior that is sinful and destructive or the temptation to quite something you know God is calling you to endure.

Some of you stopped by this blog to answer this question: Will you have the courage not to take the shortcut, not to give in to temptation, to stay in the cave even though it would be easy to get out?

Shortcuts might offer short-term relief, but they can do long-term damage.