By Doug Dezotell | Musings and Memories
Robert Frost’s poem ‘The Road Not Taken’ holds special meaning for me, and I reflect on his words quite often.
It reminds me of the choices I’ve made in life, and the ‘roads’ I’ve traveled through the years that led me to where I am today.
The first and last verses of Frost’s poem read:
“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….
“… 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.”
I left my home in North Dakota shortly after my 19th birthday.
My friend and I took the road heading out of Grand Forks, and we headed toward Tucson, Arizona.
We looked at the paper maps that we unfolded and held in our hands to decide which roads we needed to take to get there.
Along the way we had to decide which way to go. Do we go straight south through the plains, or do we head west into the mountains?
We chose the mountains…in winter…in the snow.
And it was definitely a new adventure for two young ‘flatlanders.’
We drove west from snowing North Dakota into snowing Montana; took the roads down into snowing Wyoming, and then roads down into snowing New Mexico.
Finally we took the road out of the snow into what would become our new home: the desert of Southern Arizona.
I was traveling a different ‘road’ back then. I was a Christian boy, raised in the Church, but I was not serving the Lord at that time. And my friend and I initially went to Tucson to buy illegal substances to take back North and sell.
But my plans were interrupted.
Here I was in this strange and alien land filled with plants and foliage foreign to me. I was surrounded by sand and rocks and cacti in the dry Arizona desert, and I found myself in a spiritually dry, desert-like place in my life.
But, God stopped me on that road to destruction, and I chose a ‘Road Less Traveled.’
I surrendered my life and my roads to Christ. My friend chose a different road and surrendered to heroin.
We chose different paths, different roads. And our lives turned out so different from one another.
In the Gospel of Matthew 7:13-14, Jesus compares two roads and the difference in where they lead. One road is ‘easy,’ and that’s the real popular pathway. But the other road is ‘hard’ and it is the one less traveled.
Jesus said: “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”
God used other people, new friends, to convince me that I needed to listen to the Voice of God, to follow His “Road-Map,” (The Bible), and follow the Road that leads to Life.
The Prophet Isaiah reminds us to listen to God. Isaiah wrote: “Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” Whenever you turn to the right hand Or whenever you turn to the left.” (Isaiah 30:21)
The Prophet Jeremiah wrote: But this is what I commanded them, saying, ‘Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be My people. And walk in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well with you.’ (Jeremiah 7:23)
A young man by the name of Danny, who says he is on a journey of his own to find out what life is about, wrote this earlier this year: “Life is like a road. Not like German autobahns, or the ones made by the Ancient Romans, though. Those are much too straight and smooth. Nope, the road of life is more like a rickety old wagon trail making its way up a mountain. It can be tumultuous. But it’s always taking you somewhere.”
The amazing blind and deaf teacher, Helen Keller said, “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”
My life has been an adventure for sure. Along the road I met my life’s partner, my best friend, my wife, and together we have taken so many roads that have led us across the country for ministry.
Those roads have brought us here…to this place and time.
Both Lynn and I chose that road less traveled, and we have the blessed assurance that this road will lead us to our Heavenly Home.
Lead on, O King Eternal,
The day of march has come;
Henceforth in fields of conquest
Thy tents shall be our home.
Through days of preparation
Thy grace has made us strong;
And now, O King Eternal,
We lift our battle song.
Lead on, O King Eternal,
Till sin’s fierce war shall cease,
And holiness shall whisper
The sweet amen of peace.
For not with swords’ loud clashing,
Nor roll of stirring drums;
With deeds of love and mercy
The heav’nly kingdom comes.
Lead on, O King Eternal,
We follow, not with fears,
For gladness breaks like morning
Where’er Thy face appears.
Thy cross is lifted o’er us,
We journey in its light;
The crown awaits the conquest;
Lead on, O God of might.
(Ernest W. Shurtleff, 1888)
Doug Dezotell is the Pastor of Cannon United Methodist Church in Shelbyville, and he is a columnist for the Bedford County Post. You can find him on Sunday mornings at 11 a.m. in the pulpit of Cannon UMC, 1001 S. Cannon Blvd. in Shelbyville. You can contact him anytime at email@example.com or at 931-607-5191.