Short-Cut Shirley was always looking for a way to make life simpler. And she was very creative about it.
For example, when it was somebody’s birthday, she would send them a card wishing them a happy birthday, a happy Christmas, and a happy whatever other festival she considered appropriate. That way she wouldn’t need to send them another card for another twelve months.
When she was visiting a friend, she would find the shortest possible way to get there. And to save petrol and time she often went cross-country, even through a field of corn.
When it was washing day, she would peg all her washing on the line, shake powder over it, and wait for it to rain. Of course, it might take a few day days before it got wet, but she had plenty of clothes, and she couldn’t think of an easier way.
And even when it came to God, she had a short cut. Because she didn’t mix with other people, and she certainly didn’t go to church. She didn’t feel the need. Indeed, she believed that all she had to do was to be a good person and that would be enough.
Needless to say Short-Cut Shirley was a bit of a character around town. Particularly when the rest of the population was much more interested in getting things right.
Then, one day, Shirley died. But Shirley wasn’t concerned, she was confident that she had done enough to get into heaven. Yet as she waited for her time to be judged, she noticed how long God spent with those who had arrived before.
Shirley thought, ‘He won’t need much time with me. We won’t need to go through all the things that I’ve done. We can take a shortcut. I’ve lived a good life; I deserve to go to heaven.’ And the longer she waited for her turn, the more she was convinced she was right.
Unfortunately, when her turn came, her time with God was far from short, for God wanted to go through everything that she’d ever done.
‘This is not right,’ she protested, ‘We don’t need to go through all this stuff.’ But God insisted. And God spent more time with Shirley than anyone else she had seen waiting before her.
And then it was time for the decision.
‘Now there’s no easy way to say this,’ said God. ‘I’ve tried to be fair, but you’ve lived your life by continually taking short cuts. And whilst some of them have been helpful, there are no short cuts to get to heaven. You either did what I asked, or you don’t come in. Now I told you the one and only way, but you ignored it. Indeed, you decided to go your own way. So now I have no alternate, but to let you continue your own way too.’ And Shirley was then directed to the longer of two queues—the one that led away from heaven.
Now you don’t need me to describe how Short-Cut Shirley felt. She was more than sad, she was devastated. She was also desperate. ‘Perhaps I could have another try,’ she said. But it was too late. She’d her chances, and there was only one place left for her to go. And I don’t think I need to tell you where that would take her, do you?
Now the lesson of this story is that, in life, we have choices about the way we do things. And by and large God does not interfere with our decisions. Indeed, he wants us to have the freedom to choose. But what we choose has consequences.
Many of the short-cuts in life save time and money. Some are sensible and make things easier. But some are not. And one of the short-cuts that is not sensible is the decision to choose a simpler way to get to heaven. Because that way simply doesn’t exist.
God has given us a way. It is through faith in his Son, Jesus Christ. So if we chose another way, we effectively reject God, and we reject the only way that is possible for us to get to heaven.
Short-cuts in life are great for somethings—although I wouldn’t recommend Shirley’s short-cut for washing clothes—but short-cuts can have terrible consequences too. So when it comes to God and heaven, let’s make sure that we don’t choose the wrong short-cut too.
Posted: 1st April 2020
© 2020, Brian A Curtis