The Road Less Traveled

As with all blogs and lessons on this site, if they are a blessing to you, don’t hesitate to pass them along so they might be a blessing to others.  Pastor Paul

The Road Less Traveled

Over the past 34 years I have been privileged to live in three of the most beautiful locations in our nation: The San Juan Islands (Friday Harbor), Jackson, Wyoming, and now, the Central Coast of Oregon, Lincoln City.  Each of these areas thrives on tourism.  During tourist season the main areas of the community are overrun with humanity.  It is the life-blood of those communities even though the influx of humanity is often despised by the ‘locals.’  I remember a bumper sticker I saw on a ‘local’s’ vehicle that said: “If it’s tourist season, why can’t I shoot ‘em?”  Not very welcoming but certainly expressive of the deep seated feelings of some ‘locals.’

That having been said, I have always been amazed at how quickly you could get away from tourists if arRedwood Roade willing to exert some energy and do some exploring.  There are many beautiful beaches in the San Juan’s or the Oregon Coast with relatively few people.  20 minutes down the path on trails in the Jackson area there are noticeably fewer people.  In the Redwoods during Thanksgiving break I found the same principle to be true.  I took this picture of the highway driving through the Redwoods because I was amazed that the traffic was essential non-existent.  To get into the solitude of nature can be relatively easy if you know where to go and are willing to exert some energy to get to a road less traveled.

Robert Frost wrote a poem about what happens when we get off the busy thoroughfares of life and begin to travel some of the paths and trails into more wild areas.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel bothRedwood Trail
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.

The road we choose to take makes all the difference.  The road we choose determines what we will see, what we will experience, the people we will meet, the things we will believe, the things we will choose not to believe.  The broad road, the well-traveled road has a lot going for it.  There are lots of people, jobs, possessions, …  But there is also conformity which often leads to a losing of self.  I become what everyone else is.  I blend in to the masses.  I can forget the unique person God has made me.

Jesus, in his Sermon on the Mount, talked about the wide versus the narrow road, the road well- traveled and the road less traveled.  He 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. Matthew 7:13-14 (NIV)

What I am convinced Jesus meant was that broad road was the road of religious rules.  Every religion has them.  Religions and rules go together and have an important place in social function.  They provide a broad road upon which many people, the religious, can walk.

But, the broad road can also miss something very important.  Within the context of the whole Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) the road less traveled is living life by the heart of God.

An example?  Jesus said,

“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’  But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.                                                                   Matthew 5:21-22 (NIV)

 The broad road says “don’t murder.”  This is important.  But the heart of God says don’t be angry (condemning of) with your brother.  To say it another way, the heart of God says, ‘don’t write your brother off (Raca).’  It is a lot easier to not commit murder.  It is a lot tougher to see your brother as a child of God, equally loved by God as God loves you.

The road less traveled, listening to God, means I have to spend time in solitude learning to and discern God’s voice, God’s heart.  I have to spend time meditating on what I hear.  As I hear God’s voice I know I may have to buck those who are on the broad road and choose the narrow way reflective of God’s heart.  It may not be easy.  The narrow road is often more time consuming, more arduous, a road less traveled.

What I have found in walking the road less traveled in both the spiritual and natural realms is that it may be more difficult, but, it is also more rewarding. We saw magnificent sites in the Redwoods.  I have seen wonders on the back trails of the Tetons, the Sierra Nevada, the base of Mt. Rainer, the beaches of Lincoln City and San Juan Island.  I can say with Robert Frost in that wonderful poem of nearly a century ago

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.