They have left the straight way and wandered off. (2 Pet. 2:15)

I HAVE HIKED to the bottom of the Grand Canyon three times. The walk down the rugged trails is relatively painless. Lumbering up those same angles is another story. A hiker faces many temptations in adverse environments such as that one. One is to simply call a local helicopter service to airlift you out of the canyon. Another is to pray, Jonah-like, for the miraculous growth of a shade tree; the bottom of the canyon is the same elevation as Phoenix, and just as hot on a summer day.

I succumbed to another temptation once. It was hot. Our entire crew was almost out of water. We could see a long section of the trail that seemed to be avoidable by means of a shortcut. Having studied geometry in my youth, I recalled that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. So we headed off the trail—only to meet up with a deadly rattlesnake, coiled to strike. Needless to say, we quickly darted back to the marked path.

The path exists for a reason. Some hikers invariably seek shortcuts. Taking a shortcut may seem to make sense at first glance because we cannot see the dangers that lie beyond the marked trail. Similarly, we too often fail to follow God’s clearly marked paths, and subsequently encounter disaster.

Resist the temptation to short-cut God’s commands.

Jim Dunn is the Vice President of Church Relations for Wesleyan Investment Foundation. He resides with his family in the Indianapolis area.