M. Scott Peck began his book The Road Less Traveled with this truth: “Life is difficult.”[ref]M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1978), 15.[/ref] Writing this reality or reading it is one thing; accepting it is another. Are you wrestling with the struggles of life today, knowing that changing your circumstances is not one of your options? You’re not alone; the difficulty of accepting life as it is rather than as was expected is the reason few choose the road less traveled—the place where we face life on life’s terms.
There’s a ride in the Disneyland parks called Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. The character, Mr. Toad, apparently has taken a wrong turn which has hurled him on a journey packed with potholes and pitfalls. Whistles blow, horns honk, and cars turn and whirl all the way to the end. It’s glorious to get OFF the ride! Real life is not like Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. Yes, sometimes the road appears just as impossible, but it’s never limited to three minutes! The worthwhile roads of life are usually long, and they always require dogged, rugged commitment.
How rough was your road last year? Have you hit some major potholes? Does staying the course seem impossible? Have you had days like I have when you’ve felt like saying, “You have no idea!” to the woman complaining because she missed her nail appointment . . . because her perfect, little cutie-pie had the sniffles? You may be offended by the following candid statement, but it’s the truth: I’ve wanted to run over people who’ve smiled real big at me and stated THEIR belief that “only strong people are given grand hardships.” Says who? The Bible doesn’t say anything like that at all! Actually, it says just the opposite. When I’ve been at my weakest—not my strongest—is when Jesus Christ has transformed my soul and given me freedom and rest regardless of life’s circumstances (1 Corinthians 1:27).
I can choose to resent the apparent easy lives of others, or I can choose to let God transform me on the path I’m on. Committing to the road less traveled has nothing to do with anyone else’s road or what he or she is doing on it. I’m not traveling any road except for the one God has allowed me to take.
Committing to the road less traveled doesn’t have anything to do with the good or bad life throws my way either. It has nothing to do with my circumstances, my feelings, my human weakness or strengths, my friends, or my church experiences. It has everything to do with believing that God is who He says He is—the all-good and infinitely wise Master of the universe and Lord of my life.
After many years of fighting, looking for an exit, and choosing other roads which have always led to dead ends, I have committed to following the direction of God my Father. My circumstances may still be difficult, but following His lead has become easier as I’ve learned to abide by these rules for the road:
- Believe that God loves me and allows me to experience difficulties for the purpose of transforming me into Christlikeness (Hebrews 12:11) . . . and therefore, TRUST Him.
- Believe that God’s ways and thoughts are infinitely superior to mine (Isaiah 55:8–10) . . . and therefore, SURRENDER to Him.
- Believe that God is faithful to fulfill what He has promised (Philippians 1:6) . . . and therefore, REST in Him.
- Believe that God’s truth is absolute, without error, and timeless (2 Timothy 3:16) . . . and therefore, OBEY Him.
Dear friend, are you like I once was, wishing for another road or looking for the exit? Will you choose now to turn around and commit to the road less traveled, the one the Lord knows well and promises to guide you down? Will you release your will—your whole life—to Him? If not, why not? Please let me hear from you! But before you write, ask yourself these questions:
- What am I afraid of?
- What do I believe about all of this?
- What am I unwilling to surrender?
- What are my reasons for refusing to obey?
Committing to the road less traveled doesn’t mean slapping on a smile or having the way all mapped out or being fearless. It doesn’t mean gritting your teeth and saying, “Well, I guess I’m just stuck here.” It means accepting the circumstances you cannot change and believing God will change you as He brings you through them. It means releasing the bitterness, the doubt, and the anger you have toward God. It means admitting to Him (and to yourself) that you cannot fix the potholes or anticipate the sharp turns or make it by yourself . . . and then trusting Him to see you all the way through.
Almighty Lord, on the road of life the mysteries of Your will and what is allowed to come into our lives can be difficult to understand and deal with. May Your Holy Spirit be actively working in our lives, regardless of the circumstances we endure. Father, may all praise and glory and honor be given to You today, as we learn to trust, surrender, rest, and obey You. Amen.