Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Choose, fear or faith

I have been thinking about pathways and journeys recently. This is a short essay that I wrote several years ago about the choices we make in life. I was inspired by Robert Frost's poem "The Road Not Taken" and the Sermon on the Mounts description of the broad and narrow path.

Fear or Faith

We are all well acquainted with Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken.” We all realize that the fork in the road signifies choice and that the narrator “took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” Allow me to use Frost’s poem to work out a choice we all must make again and again. What if one path represents living life based on faith in God and the other represents living in fear of anything and everything. I have most often chosen fear’s path. This path allows me to hide. I can hide from my emotions, from love, from forgiveness, from self discovery, from friendship, from commitment, from change, from life, and even from myself. I can hide from whatever it is I fear. The longer I follow fear’s path the greater my fears grow, the more power they hold over me, sending me fleeing faster down fear’s path.

            Unlike in Frost’s poem, however, I am presented with the fork in my path often, constantly. At any time I can choose to tread the path of faith. This path is scary and requires reliance on God for every step. Nothing is hidden. Everything is revealed. Light shines brightly to uncover secret thoughts, intimate desires, and petty selfishness; nothing more or less than the truth of who we are and our place in the world. The path of faith has a companion, Jesus. He walks by my side, picks me up when I fall, and converses with me. This path invites love, fellowship, trust, giving, and gratitude. There is no room for fear.

            The path of fear or the path of faith, the choice stands before you and me every moment of every day. Are we willing to give up all, to place our future, happiness, desires, thoughts, secrets, and yes our fears themselves into God’s hands or de we cling tightly refusing to trust, refusing to change? I believe that no one who has chosen the path of faith has regretted it, yet on the path of fear there is much regret and disappointment of those too afraid to live by faith. The path of faith necessitates great courage, unconditional love, and abundance of mercy, grace and patience. It takes strength perseverance. This path burns away the dross of our lives leaving pure gold. Through trial and fire those who chose the path of faith become the best of who they are. The longer one stays on the path of faith the more like Jesus one becomes. I often pick the path of fear. It is easier, but my mind and heart remain tormented, carrying burdens of guilt, unmet desires, loneliness, and fear – always fear. At times I pick the path of faith. Terrifying in its way because I am stripped of all defenses and I am left vulnerable. I am vulnerable, but not ashamed, clothed in love – unafraid. Each step based solely on faith.

            Something changes, a new challenge, a new choice, fear or faith. As in Frost’s poem those who choose the path of faith most often find “that [it] has made all the difference.” Few choose it, even fewer keep choosing it. It isn’t a path for the faint of heart, but those who persevere can say “I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”


  1. Isn't it interesting that the narrow part can be taken at various points in our lives. If we don't take it the first time we see it, God doesn't give us, he keeps offering it to us. But each time we reject it, it becomes harder and harder to take. If we reject it too many times, then it becomes impossible. I think this comment is theologically sound.

    But what about the opposite? This is where I'm not sure at all of what best represents truth. If we take the path of faith, are there divergent paths? Do some paths lead back to the broad highway of destruction? Certain biblical teachings seem to indicate that isn't possible, and yet in our lives here in this world, it seems like that happens. On this narrow path, are there other divergent paths, some that lead to the "center of God's will" and others that go round about? Or is the narrow path like many here in Mexico, once you're on it, it doesn't matter which branch you take because in a few hundred feet they'll join up again and be one path? These are interesting things to think about.

    The broad path has lots of pleasures on it. It probably doesn't go up rough hills. The people on it look like they're really enjoying themselves, at least initially. The narrow path offers adventure and discovery as you're said here Kristin. It doesn't offer easy nor ostentatious pleasures. But the truth is that these two paths go to different destinations. The decision is an important one.

  2. Thank you for your insights. I was thinking more when I wrote this I guess of divergent paths within faiths path as you put it. I think every day we get to choose many times whether we honor fear or faith. Do I go and talk to that new person or am I too afraid and just stay where I am. Do I share something personal that is scary for me or do I stay with easy topics and not make myself vulnerable. Do I try for the promotion or new job that I'm not sure I can do or do I stick with my current job becasue it is easy and I know I can do it. I think these are the decisions that shape much of our everyday experiences and determine the quality of life we live within a relationship with Christ