On a road less travelled

“I shall be telling this with a sigh | Somewhere ages and ages hence: | Two roads diverged in a wood, and I - | I took the one less travelled by, | And that has made all the difference.”

Peter Baker | 08:32, Friday, 05 November 2010

The final verse of Robert Frost’s much loved poem about the wistful implications of our choices.  

M. Scott Peck made a best selling book out of the famous line and it even gets a cameo appearance in the film, Dead Poet’s Society.  

We all wonder what might have happened in life if we had made an alternative choice, taken another path, opted for some other route - be that a career, a partner, or something as apparently trivial as a different train home. Sliding Doors, another film, was based entirely on that premise. Massive consequences flow from insignificant choices.  

It’s the fascination with what direction my life might have taken that has power both to positively reinforce our current context, and by contrast, make us discontent with it.  

Of course none of us is as free as we sometimes like to imagine. We are all creatures confined in a particular space at a particular time, determined by an “accident” of birth. The imagination may fly, but the grounded know that our choices at any one time are not limitless but shaped by practicalities over which we have little control. We can choose our friends but not our family, for example!  

But those decisions which especially intrigue me are the ones where we are faced, just like the poet, by equally balanced alternatives, either road being possible. And there are an awful lot of those life junctions.  

Of course a Christian faith shaped by Scripture is not phased but excited but such options. For one thing there is no accident in our birth. For another, God has given us all we need in His Word to make wise spiritual decisions and the freedom on that basis to go left or right!  

So as long as the big boxes are ticked, such as “is this path pleasing to God’s revealed moral will and helpful at this point in my life?” then we can move forward in faith, confident that He will not lead us into a cul de sac. We live by faith, not fear, before a Heavenly Father who always has our good at heart.  

In the end, the poet’s choice was determined by his observation that he wanted to travel into the wood along a path less used by others.  

So is there a faith based road less travelled? Well there is, in one very obvious way – Jesus called it the narrow way of the Kingdom and few will walk it!  

Which suggests it’s often a lonely path, defying the logic of culture and the values of a society which says, “you are absolutely free to choose any road you want, for as long as you want!”  

That is not the Jesus road. For Him, as for us, this is a cross–road, a direction of travel in which we want to please Him before anyone else, no matter what unpopularity or apparent restricted personal freedoms and enjoyment that may bring.  

Our true freedom is served not by doing our own thing, but His, and it will take most of us a lifetime to learn that lesson and walk that road less travelled.

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