Finding the Best Shortcut
by Loretta Leonard
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Our fast-paced world keeps most of us doing a large number of things each day. There are only so many hours a day and we work through those things that we deem necessary and let the rest wait until tomorrow. Sometimes we are rushed for time and take a quick shortcut to avoid handling a problem. We use a temporary "fix" so that we can come back later and do things the right way. I seem to be quite an expert at doing just that.
I have observed people using shortcuts who are driving a car with a broken window. Heavy plastic sheeting may be used to cover the window, held in place by duct tape. I have seen people use lumber to extend the height of a pick-up truck to help them carry more. If I use that shortcut I can carry more in the bed of the truck without the cost of buying a trailer or larger truck. Red reflective tape can be used to cover a broken tail light of a car. I can use a credit card or other object to open a door or look for an unlocked window to help me enter the house when I am locked outside.
Perhaps one of the most obvious things we all do is take a shortcut when we are around the house. I may need a hammer to hit something but rather than find the hammer, I use a block of wood or other flat object that looks like it will do the trick. Eventually I realize that only a hammer will work and I go on a hunt for the tool that I should have used in the first place. I may need a certain object to perform a task but if I can’t find the object as quickly as I feel I should, I postpone doing the task.
The shortcut I take more than anything else is using a substitute for a ladder or step stool. I am about 5 feet tall and it always seems that everything is just out of my reach. I know I need a ladder but I try to stand on the closest thing nearby that I think will support my weight. Things may come down from the shelf but they don’t come down safely. I may stand on a chair or on the bed to change a light bulb rather than take the time to use a short step stool.
The other area where I use shortcuts is when I am in the garage. Since our garage does not look like the neat and tidy ones on the home improvement shows, I usually have trouble finding what I want. That’s when I try to reach across a box or behind an object and hope to latch onto it so I can avoid moving all the clutter to get to what I needed. Usually that is when something falls down and I have a worse situation than when I started. The quick fix caused more trouble than if I would have done things right the first time.
Our family is not mechanically inclined. We depend on an auto shop for repairs and maintenance for our cars. But at times we may have to wait to get something fixed, That is when I usually take some type of shortcut so I can have a little more time to get the money I need to pay for repairs. On one of our visits to Pennsylvania we had a problem with our car. We would be driving along and from time to time we could not get the car started. We took it in to a mechanic where we were vacationing and he told us how much it would cost to fix it properly. The cost seemed high and we really wanted to have it serviced at home. The mechanic then showed us how to get safely home with a "little fix". There was a little cog that had been broken off and whenever that broken part came up to the top where the belt was, the car would not start. Here's the way we ended up and drove home. We started the car and if the engine wouldn’t turn over, we lifted up the hood and took a hammer and hit in the area where the missing cog was. With a little ingenuity we could start the car and continue on our way. We traveled over 350 miles like that!
Another shortcut I remember was also on vacation. We were within a couple of hours from our destination when we came across a road closed sign. If we took the time to turn around and go back to the nearest town we would lose 30 minutes of our time. My husband and his parents had constructed the cabin where we were going and had been coming there since 1960. Since my husband was very familiar with the area and claimed that he knew a shortcut, I put my trust in him. We were tired and wanted to get to the cabin where we could rest. After several minutes passed I began to question whether or not he had missed a turn. He reassured me that he knew what he was doing and it wouldn’t be much longer until we reached the road. After almost an hour of driving we ended up back at our starting point. Trying to save time and take the shortcut took a large amount of time that we could have saved if we had followed the sign in the first place.
I know of an elderly lady who is living by herself. She does not have a lot of resources or money to get everything fixed. She has been having trouble with her washing machine for years. Rather than buy another one she takes a stick of wood and places it inside the washer, gives it a couple of whacks and the washer starts the cycle again. Not the best way to solve a problem and definitely there is a risk of getting hurt in the process, but it is a quick fix solution and apparently works.
I have a friend who is single and decided to clean and update part of her home. She decided to work on the floors in the kitchen and dining room and together we scrubbed off the old dirt and polished the floor so it was clean and shiny. She had the dining room table set on the floor with a rug under it. Rather than move the table and clean the floor underneath, she simply ignored it because no one could see it. On another occasion she decided to paint the walls in her front hall and living room. She worked hard to lighten up the dark colors and the room looked brighter and more inviting. But she had heavy furniture and a large aquarium that was set up. Rather than move the furniture or even try to move the aquarium, she painted only the portion of the wall that she could reach. So, in several areas the wall was the original color, you just couldn’t see it. Another homeowner who purchased the home would see the problem because it would be visible.
As a human I try to find quick fixes for solutions in life. I can spend money that I don’t have to help me feel better. I may go on vacations that I can’t afford. I may binge eat or not eat at all to help me deal with the emotions of hurt, anger, and loneliness. I can work hard at covering up problem areas in my life rather than face the situation “head-on”. I may also try denying that a problem exists.
What is the one stabilizing force in my life that can help me? For Christians and others who look to us for answers the only way to have the strength to work through the difficult times of life is to take our problems to the Lord. There is no “quick fix” for healing my mind and getting focused on actually solving the problem. There is no shortcut to salvation. The steps are simple and all I have to do is to put my trust in the Lord. I must first believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that through Him I can do nothing. Once I have accepted His sovereignty, confessed my sins and asked for forgiveness I need to put Him in control of my life. Without Him I lose my sense of direction and may stumble along in life. When I allow Him to be by my side I can find peace and happiness. He then becomes the “best fix” for everything I need in life.
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