The Road Not Taken

Pastor Rachel B. Livingston 

 I. Beginning

We gather together this morning, continuing in our series that will lead us into Advent, the season in the Christian church that marks the beginning of the Christian year – the point where we will be actively waiting for our coming savior. But in this moment, we are looking at the ways that God is revealed in unlikely places such as within the words and stanzas of poetry from well-known authors.  We have seen that God can move within secular writings in ways that when read alongside scripture, can make what God is saying within the lines of scripture come alive.  Isn’t it awesome, that we serve a God who is so sovereign, that God can use anything to reveal Godself within the world, including artistic expression, metaphors, similes, and pensive thinking.
The first week we saw that life sometimes will bring us hardship, but we must hang on to the God that we serve as we heard that life ain’t been no crystal stair in Langston Hughes’s poem, “Mother to Son.”  The next week we were challenged to admit Christ’s authority and open our eyes to see where God is moving because Christ may move in ways that are beyond our control and preconceived notions of him, as we looked at Maya Angelou’s poem, “Still I Rise.”  The next week we found out that our savior is a loving gentleman, to give himself as a living sacrifice that we might find new life, in Emily Dickinson’s poem, “The Savior Must Have Been a Docile Gentleman.”  We then explored the fact that God is our Good Shepherd, who brings us comfort, even in the midst of our darkest hour, as we looked at Charles Dickens’s poem, “A Child’s Hymn.”  And last week we were encouraged to build Beloved Community and be welcoming of the stranger as we engaged with Nikki Giovanni’s poem, “You Came, Too.”  And this week we engage with Robert Frost’s Poem, “The Road Not Taken.”

II. 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 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.

III. The Road Not Taken: Explained

We can envision our poem meets a traveler on their journey within the forest in the season of autumn as the leaves have changed color and covered the path: reds, yellows, and browns as they have fallen to the ground creating the most picturesque autumnal scene, a scene that we probably could see within our current seasonal days. The traveler has come to a fork in the road and has to choose between two roads in order to continue on the journey toward their destination.  They seem to ponder about the two paths for quite sometime, as they wish they could travel both and they try to see where each path leads.  But the reality is that they cannot see the end destination on either path, which is quite often how life is.  We are often given the choice between two options, two paths, two journeys, two opportunities and we are unsure the road to take.  We want to know what each path might bring, and yet God shows us just enough to see what is right there in front of us, and we have to make the choice that we think is best, with the understanding that no matter what, God is with us along the journey.  But sometimes knowing God is with us on the journey, is easier said than done, so we fret on which road to take, which road will create the most benefit or which road will cause less problems. But the point comes where we must choose between the two paths. The traveler senses that either option would be a fine option, but they chose the road that was more grassy and had less wear, therefore the road that had been less worn, less traveled by any being.

Our pensive traveler, who seems to be taking this journey to internally process all of their thoughts and feelings, a sincere introvert as it seems they have taken the time to be away from others to process the thoughts of the complexities of life, thinks about returning to travel the road not taken at some point in the near distant future.  But then they come to the conclusion that they will probably never return to this point, which is common in life, we only live life once, so there is slim chance that we will return to have a second chance to repeat any moment or decision in life.  Then our traveler becomes pensive on the larger philosophical picture of life, as they realize that choosing the road less traveled has made a difference in their life.  It has literally changed the trajectory of what happens based on the path that was chosen.

 IV. Determining Which Road to Take

In the midst of a world that seems to grow more and more secular daily, that seems to be separating itself from the God that we serve, we are like that traveler at a crossroads where we are standing on the pathway trying to determine which road to take.  People are at each other’s throats, there is so much hatred in the air, there is so much violence, and even some of the ones who claim to be Christian have acted more like the rest of the world, as they fail to act in the love that is present within Jesus Christ.  There seems to be a path or road commonly taken by a good portion of the world – a road that fails to connect with God on an intimate level.  Yeah there are many Christians in the world, but sometimes we question if these Christians have fully dedicated their lives to God, and if they have allowed themselves to be transformed in God’s love, so much so that they function in love that has the power to develop Beloved Community – because these are some of the attributes of Christians that have chosen the path of intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.  Because when we choose the path of Christ, it transforms us, it changes our very being that we function in Christ’s love.  But we also question how faithful people are when they have allowed themselves to only practice their faith on Sunday morning and then place their faith on the shelf the other 6 days of the week.  The reality is that to choose Christ, to really choose to follow the Christ that fed the hungry, to choose the one who ate amongst the sinners that were outcast from society, to choose to follow the Christ who had no place to lay his head, to choose to follow the Christ that set the captives free, to choose to follow the Christ the functions in transformational love, to follow the Christ we call our own, to choose to follow the Christ that loved us sinners enough to suffer death on a cross and resurrect from the dead to grant us new life, is likely to be a road that has been less traveled, a road that few fully dedicate themselves to.

V. The Life of Moses

As we look at our scripture this morning, we see the documentation of the end of the life of a great laborer of our faith, Moses.  One who some might say chose the road that was less traveled, the road that was not taken by many.  A road that was not easy, yet it was even documented within our scripture this morning as a well lived life dedicated to God, as there has never been a prophet that has arisen like Moses.  Moses was called by God through a burning bush to do the unthinkable – to stand before the Pharaoh to demand that he let the people of Israel, the people of God, go, that it might end their enslavement and reality of oppression.  He had the audacity to stand in a position where he was so faithful to the God that we serve, that he risked his life to demand God’s reign and bring about the liberation of God’s people.  What would it mean for us to be so faithful to God?   To follow the trail that God calls us to, that might lead us to stand in solidarity with the oppressed to demand their liberation, to stand in a place that is the epitome of love, as we demand the ability to live as the human beings that God created all of us to be? What might it mean to take this road less traveled, this road not often taken?

            And then Moses led the people out of Egypt to a safe space as they walked through the desert, following a cloud by day and fire by night.  And even when the people had reached the point on their journey that seemed like their fate was doomed, with the power given by God he parted the Red Sea and allowed the people of God to pass through on dry land. These acts alone give a testament to the power of God alone, and not that of Moses, yet these instances show in detail the connection that Moses had to God.  What might it mean for us to follow the lead of Moses?  What might it mean for us to be so faithful to God? To follow the trail that allows us to trust in God so much that we know that God holds us in God’s hand no matter what happens, and that God will direct our path?  To lead if God has called us to lead? To stand as the one who speaks in boldness to the people of God what God has shared with us? What might it mean to take God’s direction and lead people to a place of peace and safety in the midst of the world’s chaos? What might it mean to take this road less traveled, this road not often taken?

            And Moses led the people in the wilderness as the people were waiting to enter into the promised land, showing them to choose God over idols, and brought the people the laws that helped them to follow God.  What might it mean to be that faithful to God?  To follow the trail that challenges the world to always serve God first over idols? To love God fully in a way that the idols of greed, selfishness, evil, pride, addiction, and materialism are cast to the side?  What might it mean to take this road less traveled, this road not often taken?

            And Moses was the one who had such an intimate connection with God that he was the only one who would speak to God alone, the only one who saw God face to face – the one who met intimately with God so often that his face began to glow. What might it mean for us to follow the lead of Moses? What might it mean to be that faithful to God?  To follow the trail that calls us to pray without ceasing and develop a genuine intimate relationship with God? To know God so intimately that we can see God’s plan for us as we commune with God often and hear God’s voice? What might it mean to take this road less traveled, this road not often taken?

 VI. Taking The Road Not Often Taken

            As we come to our scripture this morning, this historical book that is often seen as the second documentation of the law, we see that Moses has come to the end of his life, the end of his journey in which he continually chose the path most connected to God, the path that many have not chosen or been so dedicated to.  Yet, as Moses stands here at the end, some may say that he was missing out on his sense of reward, as he was not able to experience the Promised Land.  But in that mindset, we miss the point that Moses was so faithful, that God would not let him die without seeing the fruits of his labor.  Yes, it may have been from afar, and he may not have gotten to experience this “land of milk and honey” with the people of Israel, but he was able to see that the road that he chose made a difference in not only his life, but in the lives of the People.  If it was not for his choice to respond to God’s call on his life, to lead the people, then the people may not have experienced liberation, they may not have experienced growth in relationship with God and each other, they may not have experienced a new generation of leadership that strongly trusted in God after they learned from the teachings of Moses, and they may not have experienced a land for themselves. And if it was not for the path Moses took, he would not have been known as the prophet of God who was known for centuries to come as the one that led the People of God out of Egypt. Maybe the question is, how will we be remembered based on the road we choose?  Will we open our eyes to where God is moving? And when God reveals God’s self, will we make the choice to follow the road that God calls us to – that may be in leadership, service, ministry, exhortation, mentorship, prayer, peace, liberation, and so much more? Let us proclaim to take the road that leads to closer relationship with God, the road not often taken by others within the world.  And as we make this proclamation,  may we be challenged as the people of God to follow the road of dedicated faith, the road of true discipleship, which can be the road less traveled, the road not often taken.

The reality is that this road not often taken could lead us both individually and communally, as the people of God, to stronger faith in God, to patterning our lives in a way that is pleasing to God, to growth as the disciples of Jesus Christ, to work together as the people of God that spread God’s love, to work as the church in ways that transform the world, and yes, it can lead to making a difference in our own lives. Let us find comfort in following the Road not often taken, the road less traveled, because that road will lead to a stronger and intimate relationship with the God we serve.