When Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt. “Get up!” the angel said. “Take the child and his mother back to the land of Israel, because those who were trying to kill the child are dead.”
So Joseph got up and returned to the land of Israel with Jesus and his mother. But when he learned that the new ruler of Judea was Herod’s son Archelaus, he was afraid to go there. Then, after being warned in a dream, he left for the region of Galilee. So the family went and lived in a town called Nazareth. This fulfilled what the prophets had said: “He will be called a Nazarene.” (Matthew 2:19–23 NLT)
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
These final lines in Robert Frost’s famous poem “The Road Not Taken” seem to celebrate forging new paths and making decisions others dare not make. Certainly, that is how it has been most widely understood throughout the decades, and it might even be why it is so well known even by many who suffer from metrophobia – the fear of poetry. However, “The Road Not Taken” was actually written as a joke about a friend’s indecisiveness over which path to take when the two of them were on a walk together. The first three stanzas of this twenty-line poem are all about dithering over making the wrong choice between two paths, though they are identical. Even the last lines remain ambivalent about whether or not taking the “one less traveled” was a good choice or bad.
It can be difficult to discern what path to take, whether that’s walking in the woods, choosing which church to call home, deciding on a new job, or any other choice of any seeming importance. Most of us won’t have the privilege of Joseph and receive messages from angels in our dreams. Thankfully, we have another source of guidance. “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking” (James 1:5).
Often the reason we remain indecisive is not because we don’t know which way is better; we are simply scared to travel the more difficult path. However, we should not be afraid to choose the difficult option if that is where God leads us. Regardless of how arduous, demanding, or challenging a path it actually is, if it is where God is leading, it will always have the potential to be the most beautiful, and that truly makes all the difference.