Her name was Gypsy, and she was a rebel. I think the trail guide assigned her to me because I’m tall (and so was she) and I said I had “some” riding experience (meaning I took a few lessons one summer when I was 14).
Don’t get me wrong—Gypsy was actually a pretty well-behaved horse. She didn’t buck me off or scrape my legs off on trees or anything like that. But she did love running up hills (I had a little trouble sitting down the next day as a result). And no matter what, if there was an alternate path to take, she took it.
Often, our trail would diverge into two paths for several feet before rejoining. One of these was usually the more traveled path, the one the trail guide would take. But Gypsy always took the road less traveled, even if that meant splitting off from the rest of the group and going her own way. Her road was never the accepted one, but sometimes it was the smoother, better path as a result.
For the past two months, we’ve been teaching our Sunday school kids about the biblical character of Daniel. It strikes me now that Daniel never took the most traveled path.
When the rest of his fellow Jewish captives followed the Gentile king’s orders and ate food forbidden to them, Daniel and his three friends asked for vegetables and water.
When the king had a dream that proclaimed his personal doom, Daniel interpreted the dream truthfully, and when God bent down and scripted a message of destruction on the palace wall with His finger, Daniel again spoke correctly.
Even late in his life, as an old man, when the king ordered everyone in the kingdom to pray to him alone, Daniel refused and continued to pray three times a day to his God, even at risk of life and limb.
I’m not like Gypsy, not like Daniel. I rarely take the road less traveled, because I don’t like it.
I like tradition, not change.
I like order, not chaos.
I like comfort, not pain.
I like acceptance, not rejection.
I like company, not loneliness.
I like clarity, not uncertainty.
The road less traveled may involve comfort, acceptance, and clarity. But it may not.
That’s the difficulty for me, I think. Risk is hard, uncomfortable, and I would prefer to choose the methods and paths that others have proven successful and safe in the past.
But if I never risk . . . will I ever gain?
If Daniel had never risked asking for different meals, speaking an unpopular truth, or praying when it was forbidden, he never would have become a leader, saved lives, or opened strangers’ eyes to see his God. Most importantly, he may never have developed the kind of faith and relationship with God that allowed him to receive insight into Israel’s future and God’s plan of sending Messiah to save His people.
If I don’t risk, I may stay safe, well-fed, and comfortable. I may make good friends and maintain a close relationship with my family and accomplish good things. But I may never do the things I was meant to do or find the path I was meant to walk. Saddest of all, I may never develop the closeness of relationship to God that I want.
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.
Will you join me in praying for the courage to take risks? The road less traveled by is scary . . . but I believe it’s worth it.