We have all seen a situation where the short-term fix is favoured to the long-term solution. In sports, General Managers will trade top prospects for proven talent in an attempt to win now. In politics, decisions are made by the ruling party in an attempt to stay in power. In business, quarterly profits are the driving force behind many decisions. Even in raising children, we make decisions sometimes to just try to get through a hectic day.
The problem with the “short game” is that the consequences of pursuing short-term success can often cause long-term pain. Looking at the scenarios above, we can all think of an example of a team that languished at the bottom of the standings for years because they traded away future stars, or a government that created huge debts by spending to win the vote, or a business that went bankrupt because their quick fixes never resulted in a long-term strategy.
Our human nature desires instant results. We want it all, and we want it now. We want results, and we will deal with the effects of those decisions later – we let “future me” worry about those things. We have to learn to plan for the future – put off the instant desires and consciously focus on what is best in the long-term.
God is the master of the “long game”. He is patient and works His purpose out over time. He doesn’t take a shortcut or sacrifice the overall plan for a quick win. After walking through the Old Testament this year, I have a new appreciation for how God was patient with His people and worked to keep them on track so that when the time was right, Jesus could come and fulfill His purpose.
Maybe there is no better example of God rejecting the “short game” than when Christ was in the desert and being tempted by Satan. Jesus rejected the opportunity to take the easy way out because He knew that path would lead to ultimate defeat. He had to be patient, wait for things to fall into place and stay true to His mission.
When it comes to our spiritual growth, we need to keep our eye on the long-term goal as well. We don’t want to go through the trials and the growing pains, but they are so important. We don’t become the people we are without going through the hard times. “You learn more from failure than you do from success. Don’t let it stop you. Failure builds character.” Though it is not known who first coined the phrase, we have all found it to be true.
God doesn’t promise us the easy life if we put our faith in Him – in fact, Jesus warns that we will endure hardship for His sake and that it is the narrow path, not the wide one, that leads to Him. God isn’t a genie in a bottle waiting to grant us our every wish; He is the potter who is shaping the clay, molding it to become a beautiful creation. We can’t rush the process. There is no substitute for experience. We need to simply draw close to Him and allow Him to work in us. He is patient and loving, and if we just let him sculpt us to become the creation He wants us to be, the results will be glorious.