“Two paths diverged in a wood, and I – I took the path less traveled and that made all the difference.” Most of us are familiar with these words from Robert Frost’s poem, The Road Not Taken. It has become somewhat of a mantra for a generation required to memorize it in elementary school. But it is as sage advice as it seems? Sure, God created us with a passion to explore, create and innovate. This is part of our dominion mandate, but like everything else about man’s glorious design, the effects of the fall inevitably turn our love of novelty into self-destruction.
Untethered from our Manufacturer’s directions, our adventurous spirit turns rogue and pursues every path but the safe one. Contrary to Robert Frost’s seeming wisdom, the Romans had a less speculative but more practical proverb — Via trita via tuta or “the well-worn way is the safe way.” We would call this way “tried and true.” Just as every inventor and innovator knows, technology is iterative. We reach new heights, not by abandoning the old ways, but by building on the tested foundations. Yet our human pride leads us to despise the old ways and go down the “road less traveled.” Where does it lead? Often to ruin and heartache or just plain lostness.
Our expression, “to come to a crossroads” means to come to a place in life where our direction will determine our destination, where a critical decision must be made about which way to go. Which direction are you headed? Are you at a crossroads? Are you at the place where you must decide whether to venture down the road less traveled or find safety in the well-worn way? The people of Jeremiah’s day were at a crossroads. They were rushing headlong to destruction. With backs turned to God, God sent his prophet Jeremiah as a watchman to call them to turn back. Through Jeremiah He calls them.
Thus says the Lord:
“Stand by the roads, and look,
and ask for the ancient paths,
where the good way is; and walk in it,
and find rest for your souls.
But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’ – Jeremiah 6:16
The word translated “ancient”, means literally “eternal.” God is not calling his people to return to tradition or simply “the way we have always done it.” As social critic G. K. Chesterton warned us, “we have two great types — the advanced person who rushes us into ruin, and the retrospective person who admires the ruins.” Simply being conservative is not enough, if what we are conserving are ‘ruins.’ Jeremiah’s call is to return not to the old ways, but the eternal ways — seek the well-worn, tried and true, eternally faithful path of God’s Word – His Word in Scripture and His Word Incarnate.
Life will bring us to many crossroads – crossroads in relationship, in vocation, in education and in a million life choices every day which have a lifelong impact. Which path will you take – the road less traveled? The path of pride and self-reliance? Or the via trita? The right path at every crossroads is the same – “ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.” Which way will you follow? I pray that at the crossroads you ask for the eternal path and follow the One who is the Way, the Truth and the Life.
Join us this Sunday, August 11 as we consider our response when God brings us to the crossroads of life. We meet from 5:00 – 6:30 pm in The Commons at St. Andrews Anglican Church at 8300 Kanis Rd in Little Rock. Click here for directions. Come with a friend and join us for fellowship and worship. We look forward to seeing you there.