When we heard this from our parents growing up, the answer was obvious: the easy way. However, we don’t really want the easy way, right? We would rather fight for something we don’t care about just to say we didn’t lose. We can be very, very hardheaded. Like three year olds in Wal-Mart, we can come across to our Heavenly Father like a bratty kid trying to scream his way into getting what he wants.
You know what? We’re not alone in this desire. It’s a human thing. We’re prone to be stubborn. It’s remarkable that no one has to teach us to be bull-headed; we get that because of sin’s effect on us. And ancient Israel certainly gave us some great example not to follow. Some examples, instead, to learn from.
In a classic moment where the Father offers His children the choice: the easy way or the hard way is found in Psalm 81:13–16:
“If my people would only listen to me, if Israel would only follow my ways, how quickly I would subdue their enemies and turn my hand against their foes! Those who hate the Lord would cringe before him, and their punishment would last forever. But you would be fed with the finest of wheat; with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.”
The choice seems so obvious: listen to the Lord, follow His ways and receive deliverance from the Lord. But we know historically, this was often not their choice.
And a quick glance into our personal history reveals the same thing.
Why should this be? Why do we choose the path of pain instead of the path of blessing? The Lord still places before us “life and death, blessings and curses” (Deut. 30:19) and desires for us to pick life and blessings. Nevertheless, we can fight the Lord over things we really don’t care about because we don’t want to lose.
Even as God’s people on this side of the cross, it’s all too easy to fight the Lord’s rod and staff and resist His leadership. In pride (and foolishness!), we resist His guidance into life and blessing and would rather face death and curses.
Doesn’t make much sense, does it?
The next time you feel the Lord’s rod and staff (or maybe His two by four), stop fighting and remember this: He’s offering the easy way but He loves you enough to get the job done the hard way. His glory and your good are worth it.