George Bowers Sr. Choosing the road less traveled

George Bowers Sr.

Shenandoah County primarily offers two roads for north/south travel. Most days, those who enjoy lighter traffic and more scenic views take Route 11 while the majority who prefer speed and directness opt for a more crowded Interstate 81. Route 11 is slower than the interstate, but it treats its travelers to several towns and hamlets up and down the valley. There are days, however, like today’s Route 11 Yard Crawl, when the Valley Pike becomes the road most traveled and a real nightmare for someone just wanting to get from one place to another.

Over 100  years ago, Robert Frost penned what has become a very popular poem, “The Road Less Traveled.” Most students are privileged to encounter it somewhere in their English studies and if they don’t, they should for it is a masterpiece of rhyming wisdom that is very instructive for all of us whether Yard Crawling or not.

The defining truth of the poem encourages readers not to follow their peers on the well-worn path, but instead, to seek out and pursue the alternate route that is far less used. Apparently peer pressure is a timeless temptation that leads many away from life’s best options.

Frost’s poem is incredibly insightful, but in many of our situations, there are more than two roads and oftentimes the volume of traffic is more difficult to assess. In addition, while we would do well to look down both as far as we can to see where they lead, the ultimate ends are usually impossible to discern from our current vantage point. What’s a person to do?

One old adage that still makes the rounds encourages us to “follow our hearts.” This method teaches that our passions are the best criteria and that our hearts, or more accurately our guts, will never steer us wrong. Unfortunately, most of us over 20 can testify to the fallacy of this technique and society’s roads are littered with the wrecks caused by this well-meaning advice.

On the other end are those who advocate only for the rigorous mental evaluation of each possible route complete with weighted criteria and comparison data. While certainly preferable to blind passion that changes with the wind speed, the downfall of this method is the inability to accurately anticipate all that lies along each pathway. We might be able to see down each until they bend in the undergrowth, but beyond those bends might be monstrous bears or pots of gold that don’t show up on maps or Goggle Earth.

It’s important when making life’s choices to remember that God gives us both a head and a heart. Both are important and should be used together as we navigate life’s roads. Decisions made only with the head often result in safe, docile outcomes that rob us of bold and courageous victories. Conversely, following only our hearts can easily lead into foolish journeys that leave us spent and disappointed. A much wiser strategy is to combine both head and heart.

Even better than all three of these options is to follow Jesus. Not only is his path much less traveled than any other, it’s also the one of greatest reward! While we can’t see the eventual outcome with physical eyes, our faith clearly observes a destination of great joy. In addition, although the journey may become difficult and painful at times, we have the immense pleasure of a co-traveler in the form of our savior who has promised to never leave or forsake those who walk his way.

We also have the companionship, wisdom, and encouragement of other believers who have selected his route as well. While there may not be as many on this trail as on the broad road to destruction, the depth and quality of relationships are much stronger and more enjoyable.

Instead of eliminating our head and heart, Jesus enables us to use both to their greatest potential in order to experience life’s journey to the full. He grants us freedom to explore his glory and greatness all along the narrow path he’s charted, and like a tour guide, he points out highlights we shouldn’t miss.

As we participate in, or complain about, this weekend’s Yard Crawl, let’s use it as an occasion to consider what paths we’re choosing in life and to deepen our determination to follow Jesus regardless of the costs. Avoiding the Crawl, George

George Bowers Sr. is the Senior Pastor of Antioch Church of the Brethren and has authored 10 books including Valley Verses, Volume IV which is available at Four Star Printing and Shenandoah Stuff. He can be reached through www.georgebowersministries.com or at gabowers@shentel.net.