April 13, 2022

When I was in high school I took a poetry explication class. The object of the class was to analyze a poem in detail, pulling out the major and minor themes and uncovering its real meaning. For me, this process took weeks. But with many a late night and some shed tears, the end result was a cursive, hand- written paper. Among the many pieces we studied was one poem that is standard for any poetry course and that is Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken.

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

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 traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

 Of course, as simplistic as this poem appears to be on the surface, there are actually many different ideas and themes. One theme is undebatable- the presentation of two roads, two choices, diverging from a single pathway. We credit Frost with the idea of the “divergent road” theme but even a novice reader of the Bible is aware, this theme is found in the Evangelist’s foundational scripture in Matthew 7:13-14.

 “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

Choices, roads, pathways, gates and even sons- diverging into separate paths is a recurrent concept throughout the Word of God. Beyond the idea of choosing the narrow gate, in order to obtain salvation, we are frequently faced with a fork-in-the-road decision. A choice, a direction or a stance must be made.

 It is peculiar that often children raised in the same home, under the same circumstances, coming out of the same gene pool, can be so completely different from one another and make very different decisions. The first family on earth was not immune to this phenomenon; two brothers chose two different pathways and came to two very different ends.

 Cain’s rejected offering, at first glance, hints at favoritism. God seems capricious in giving Abel acceptance for his first-fruit lambs and rejecting Cain’s fruit from the ground. Implicit in God’s reply to Cain’s fallen countenance is the understanding that if Cain had made the right decision, offered the right sacrifice, Cain would have been accepted.

The question that God posed to Cain begs to be asked today:


 I know many ministers, pastors and leaders that are feeling very angry and frustrated. Having a seemingly endless pandemic isn’t what anyone anticipated. Grasping for programs, means or ideas to reach ambiguous ends has led many to feel discouraged and hopeless. Yet God is looking at our fallen countenances and saying, “WHY?”

 My dear friend tells a story of when she was first married and how her husband made her a meal of chicken and Brussels sprouts. The only problem was that she absolutely hated chicken and Brussels sprouts. She tried to choke down the meal so painstakingly made but couldn’t get past the first bite. Her husband, seeing her reaction, was upset that she didn't like the meal that he had worked so hard to make. Her reply to his angst was, “If you wanted to please me, you would have asked me what I like.”

 How often we want to pick and choose what we offer and give to God. We want to approach God in a way that what seems right to us, ways what we find convenient and not what God desires. Cain was unwilling to do the right thing because he just wanted to be right!

Choosing the narrow pathway is figuring out what God likes and then doing it!

 Perhaps the greatest disparity between siblings in the Bible is that of Esau and Jacob. I think it is safe for us to surmise that they were fraternal twins. Their physical differences as well as differences in their character were foreshadowed in their wrestling in Rebecca’s womb.

 Esau, red, hairy and brawny, had a voracious appetite for food! Appetites are good things, a God-given thing that was instilled in us to keep us alive! Yet appetites left unchecked and out of control, left to supplant or surpass our appetite for the Lord, will easily lead us to that wide path of apathy and complacency.

 Tied to Esau’s appetite was a need to please his natural father, Isaac. What spurred him on to catch Isaac’s preferred game before the pronouncing of the blessing? Certainly not Esau’s love of spiritual things, as evidenced by his casting away of his birthright for a pot of beans. What spurred him on was the fact that Isaac wanted game and Isaac wanted to give him the blessing!

 In contrast, we have Jacob, whom the Bible describes as a smooth man - smooth in a lot more ways than just his skin. A deceiver, a supplanter- this smooth talker, although an opportunist, knew what was valuable. He knew the better part and would do all he could to get it. It would take many years, trials and a wrestling match with the Lord, but Jacob actually became the chosen path by which God’s plan of salvation would be wrought in the earth. Jacob is described as a man who dwelled in the tents, a prophetic picture of one who tabernacles with GOD.

To be continued…

written by

Stephanie Moder

Stephanie Moder