To be honest, I was never an English literature fan when I was in school. However, while thinking about what to write about this week, this poem instantly came to mind:
The Road Not Taken – Robert Frost
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
This poem is well remembered for the last two lines. We read into them as saying, “I took the harder path, and it made life so much better in the end.” But, much like scripture, sometimes we fail to see the context of what is going on in this poem.
The person walking in this poem has two options and chooses one thinking it is better than the other. As the poem wraps up though, he sighs. Why? I doubt he’s just tired from walking. If you look at the verses prior, he seems to notice that maybe he did not take the right route; maybe it’s the same as the other, and most likely even though he “saved” that other path for another day, he may not be able to return to take it. The person is filled with regret and makes up for it by saying that the path he chose “made all the difference” ironically.
It’s tough not to look on our past and think, “Wow, I took the wrong road.” Philippians 3:12-14 gives us some advice on this:
12 I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. 13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
Paul, the writer of Philippians, who most likely took a much more divergent road than any of us (have you killed any Christians lately?), states “but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.”
Sometimes our regret can weigh us down and keep us from focusing on the hope that Christ brings to our lives. We must focus and push on.
From the past few weeks of this series’ blog post: We must 1) know where you are going, 2) grab a friend to help you run further than you could alone, and 3) don’t look back, but focus on the future.
Finish the race strong.