Dangerous Shortcuts

In the summer of 1846, a party of 89 emigrants headed west along the 2,170-mile-long Oregon Trail. Tired, hungry, and trailing behind schedule, they decided at Fort Bridger, Wyoming to travel to their final destination in California by shortcut. The “Hastings Cutoff” they chose was an alternative route that its namesake, Lansford Hastings, claimed would shave at least 300 miles off the journey. The party believed this detour could save more than a month’s time. They were wrong.

Hastings Cutoff turned out to be a waterless, wide-open stretch of the Great Salt Lake Desert, that Hastings himself had never traveled. He simply looked at a map of the route that settler John C. Fremont had taken in 1845 across the Great Salt Lake Desert. Hastings then wrote a guidebook which said it would be quicker and easier than the standard trail. What Hastings didn’t realize was that Fremont almost died doing it.

By the time the Donner-Reed party finally reached the Sierra Nevada mountains, the shortcut had cost them weeks. Snow fell, trapping the travelers. This is when the most infamous (and deadly) part of their tale began. Some of the members who died, froze to death with their hands holding their wagon reins. Other members of the party began starving to death, survivors ate their remains to stay alive. Finally, in the middle of February,1847 a rescue party from California arrived, by then only 48 of the original 89 emigrants had survived. Historians have described the events as one of the most fascinating tragedies in the entire record of American westward migration. The pathway that they took through the Rocky Mountains is today known as the Donner Pass.

What appeared to be a shortcut ended up being a roadway to death. Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” Wouldn’t it be great if we could shorten the path to spiritual maturity? And wouldn’t it be great if we could find a quicker way to grow? But the fact is spiritual maturity and growth are lifelong journeys.
A better way to travel with God is to stay tuned in to His voice and full of His Spirit. As the prophet Isaiah said, “And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.” (Isaiah 30:21) Only God has the right path for you to walk, don’t be deceived into finding the next “shortcut”. God’s Word and Spirit listened to and obeyed will always get you to the right destination.

Connect and Serve

Our Connect and Serve emphasis continues. If you are not serving God at Ridgecrest in some way, prayerfully consider joining the many who aid the work of God and the mission He has entrusted to us by finding a place of service. Stop by the “Connect & Serve” display in our Welcome Center and look over the many opportunities to be a part of God’s work here.

God Is Up To Something Big

That is the theme of my current message series. Sunday I’ll share a message about waiting on God. Do you have trouble being patient in the instant society we live in? Listen carefully this week. God has something to say to us all. And remember while there are no shortcuts, God is always trying to take you someplace new.

I love being your pastor!

For God’s Glory Alone,

Pastor Ray
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