…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 travelled by, And that has made all the difference.
The above is the last stanza of Robert Frost’s famous poem “The Road Not Taken”. It speaks of the author’s dilemma, possible future remorse, second guesses and worries of missed opportunities.
The psalmist in Psalm 23 wrote, “The Lord is my Shepherd; … He leads me …” What path did the Lord lead him to take? It was not a path that was clear and neither was it an easy path. On the contrary, the psalmist expected to walk in darkness, in shadow, not knowing where the next step may lead. The psalmist expected to walk in the valley, where the surroundings were damp and uncomfortable, likely filled with dead tree trunks, rotting leaves and inhabited by dangerous creatures. The psalmist expected to tread a path where evil and death were close by. This was a path chosen by the Lord.
Yet, he was reassured. This path was characterized by righteousness. When he walked in this path, he knew he would be found right before the Lord. This was because the Lord Himself walked with him as he walked the path chosen by God.
The psalmist also tells us that all the Lord’s paths are characterized by faithfulness (Ps 25:10). He who walks with us does not only walk with us in fair weather, but all the time. As portrayed so vividly in the poem by Mary Stevenson titled “Footprints in the sand”, the times when we have seen only one set of footprints, is when He carried us.
These paths are also characterized by steadfast love (Ps 25:10). When we walk in the Lord’s paths, even though it may be filled with discomfort and uncertainty, we can be sure that He has our good in mind (Rom 8:28). Moreover, His love is not fickle but is steadfast. We can be sure that each decision that He guides us through and each result that we experience is meant for our good.
The psalmist also knows that these paths are marked by truth and he asks the Lord to guide him in His truth and teach him (Ps 25:5). To walk the Lord’s path is to be guided by God’s Word all the time, because the richness of God’s truth is found mainly in His Word. How can we be guided in this path unless we know His Word clearly and intimately? To another psalmist, His Word “is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Ps 119:105).
Finally, this path is marked by hope. Verse 5 of Psalm 23 paints a picture of refreshments along the path, amidst trials. These refreshments may not be physical in nature, but may be spiritual and the Psalmist knows that as he walks the Lord’s path, he expects to be refreshed by Him. He also has hope because at the end of the Lord’s path, he was sure that he will dwell in the Lord’s house forever (Ps 23:6).
Are you facing a divergence in a wood? Which path will you choose? How would you know if the path that you have chosen is the one that the Lord has chosen for you? It is the path that is marked by His righteousness, His faithful presence and His steadfast love. He gives us His Word to guide us along this path. On this path, we can expect to be refreshed and will be strengthened by the hope of a future with Him in eternity.
By Ong Kiat Hoe, Elder (YCKC Bulletin 17 May 2015)