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.
This is the last stanza of Robert Frost’s poem, The Road Not Taken. It conveys a wonderful picture of the result of choices. We make choices every day and many times within each day. Generally, we make choices the same way that we have always made them. We choose the well-worn path for it is a path of safety, convenience, comfort. We call these choices, habits. We become so accustomed to them that we hardly even realize that we are making choices at all. We think that we decide automatically, as if the choice in the matter is beyond us. But that is only because we have chosen the well-worn path so often that we head that way without a second thought.
A lifetime of choices has brought us to the point where we are today, for good or for ill. A situation arises. We react. We think that the reaction is not a choice but an instantaneous reflex response. But this is not true. An angry word hollered at the driver that did not accelerate fast enough when the light turned green is not the same thing as protecting your eyes from a suddenly falling branch. One is reactionary, natural, mechanistic, free of moral choice. The other is simply the end result of a particular way of thinking, trained into a habit. We say as we think for out of the heart the mouth speaks. This fact is equally true for facial expressions, bodily gestures, tones of voice, and particular comments. All of these outward expressions simply reveal what is under the skin.
This is not merely a matter of positive thinking and self help. At the root of a frowning countenance is an unthankful and discontent heart. And behind an unthankful and discontent heart is bad theology. God is the maker of events. He is the governor of history. He is most particularly the governor of the history of His people. If God superintends the world, how much more so does He superintend all of the events of all of His saints? A tendency to always see things in a negative fashion is merely the manifestation of bad or immature theology in the heart and mind. The mature Christian is always looking for God’s purposes, and therefore, God’s good hand in Providences.
PollyAnna played the Glad Game. She always looked for something to be glad about in every circumstance. This is not because she was a PollyAnna(how did she get a bad rap?), or shall we say a stork with her head buried in the sand, but rather, because she was a Christian and understood that all things have their purpose in the good purposes of God. If the event happened, then God meant it. God is good, therefore there must be some good in it. The harder the providence, the more difficult the game is and the more likely that the one in the hard providence who finds the answer will win the game.
It is easy to find good in a wrecked car when everyone lives and you get a new car out of the deal. But how to find good in the death of a child or of a husband or wife is not so easy. But we are Christians and we must know by faith that it is good because God is good. We must know by faith that there is purpose because God is purposeful. We must know by faith until we can know by sight. And when we know by sight, we win the game.
There are two roads. One is well worn and most people travel down it. “Life is hard. I am weary. It’s just not fair. Will I ever get a break? People are so stupid. We’re having that again?”
The other road is green. Few have taken it. The trail is hard to follow but it looks promising. “God is good. There is purpose. He knows better than I. This, too, will pass. I will believe until I see. I know this bad thing is good, I just don’t know how it is good yet, but I will wait and I will see. I am always treated better than I deserve. God is good.”
Take the second road. It will make all the difference.