The Paths we Choose and the Life that Follows

Image TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both And be one traveler, long I stood And looked down one as far as I could To where it bent in the undergrowth;       

 Then took the other, as just as fair, And having perhaps the better claim, Because it was grassy and wanted wear; Though as for that the passing there Had worn them really about the same,        

 And both that morning equally lay In leaves no step had trodden black. Oh, I kept the first for another day! Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back

 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 traveled by, And that has made all the difference.

Who among us does not remember reading, reciting, or analyzing this famous poem by Robert Frost during those long lost days years ago when we were busy cramming our minds full of the information society thought would be invaluable for us to know?  Who among us can ever really get past the profound insight of the words themselves as our day to day lives are marked continually by the need to choose this or that path?  And we look back in wonder that our choices and the choices of others have led us to this point.

The other day I met a man who is “living the dream,” that is to say, he is very much living the life I envisioned for myself when I was a college student: young, good looking & unattached, pulling down a handsome salary in the finance industry, and thoroughly invested in the life of the local church.  As we talked, and as I left the conversation, I felt the familiar twinge of doubt, or was it regret?

I sigh inwardly and contemplate “the road less traveled” upon which I’ve trod these twenty years.  My life is far different than I imagined it would be.  We talked across the dinner table, my wife and I, discussing the petty details of upcoming travels and reflecting on the more profound details of what really is entailed in the “good life.”  And it has been a good life.  I have a wonderful wife, a healthy and handsome son, all my needs are provided for.  And yet even knowing this, the twinge of regret/doubt still comes.

How did I get here?  How do any of us get anywhere?  Simply we get wherever we are through the day by day choices we make that lead us inexorably along a path the end of which we cannot now imagine.  Who imagines anything accurately about their future life?  We don’t and we cannot.  We simply choose, one step at a time.  It is this basic reality that causes me to reject any notion that people are somehow prisoners of their feelings or trapped by their inclinations.  Scientists confirm what the Bible teaches — as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.  And so as we choose the right, the holy, the merciful, the good – over and again – the paths in our brain literally take shape and we become different kinds of people than we were.  A decision, once taken, will lead, with its twists and turns and hidden corners, either towards a deeper and richer and more transformative relationship with God through Jesus, or further and further away.  And like the  traveler in Frost’s poem, there is never an option not to choose.

Author: elderj

I was born the fourth child and third son of godly parents in Nashville Tennessee. After leaving home for college I got involved with InterVarsity, then graduated with a degree in finance. After that I got a masters in history. Nowadays I spend too much time reading, writing, thinking, and occasionally doing my job.

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