P A L M S U N D A Y W E E K
Devotions written by Missy Iley
The Road Not Taken
BY 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.
Published in 1916, The Road Not Taken is not only Robert Frost’s most famous poem but is also among the most renowned ever written.
Frost later disclosed the poem was written to his friend and fellow poet, Edward Thomas, as a joke, reporting, “When they went walking together, Thomas was chronically indecisive about which road they ought to take, and often lamented that they should have taken the other one.”
I must confess for years, I often compared the final stanza of Frost’s poem to Matthew 7:13-14: “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.” But now, upon reading the poem’s “backstory” and studying the complete work, I realize Frost’s insights fall more in line with Joshua’s imploration to the Israelites to “choose for yourselves today who you will serve” (Joshua 24:14-15).
As both writers reflected upon the turmoil caused by the indecision, their irritation could not be masked, and both men conveyed it in their own way, “Just decide what you’re you going to do and do it. Quit waffling! Pick a road! Pick a side! Just make a decision!”
As we continue down the path to the cross this week, the questions start becoming more direct—more personal—more costly. Jesus asked, “Who do people say I am?” and the disciples were boldly forthcoming as they confessed the indecision of “the crowd.” But then Jesus drew the line in the sand when he asked, “Who do you say I am?” At this, eyes probably darted away from the Savior in a million directions, crickets were heard chirping, and the group became paralyzed by the dreaded “awkward pause.” Finally, Peter broke the silence by the confession heard ’round the world, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!”
So often we Christians find ourselves parked at the proverbial fork in the road under a torrent of internal indecision, fighting what can be a never-ending battle between “what is easy and what is right.” This is why Peter’s confession or “decision” is so significant. For it is in that moment of clarity breathed into Peter by the Holy Spirit, he made his choice, and it was that choice, in spite of all of his future failures, “that made all the difference.”