Tuesday, April 11, 2017
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6(NLT)
In his magnificent, albeit short poem, The Road Not Taken[ii], Robert Frost gave us:
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.
I’m certain Mr. Frost had no intention to tell you of my walk with our dogs last weekend. But we did walk, and I saw the tree(s). There were not roads that diverged, but the tree, that started out as one, diverged into two, then grew apart in opposite directions, and eventually parallel in their journey up towards the same sky.
It was something of a metaphor for me, this strange configuration in the woods. It tells of how children, born into the same household, can take vastly different paths out of a common root and yet both push towards a common goal…upward growth and strength.
I knew two brothers like that. They took different paths in life, one an educator with an earned doctorate; the other barely survived grade school and was a construction laborer his entire life. But both served God with their ways and strength in such different manners, but such value and honor, I was proud to serve as their pastor, and call both of them friend.
The verse in Proverbs has been used to comfort many a Christian parent whose child took the road most-travelled; the one that leads into the far country of the Prodigal. Another poet[iii] wrote about wandering sheep and proclaimed:
Little Bo-Peep has lost her sheep,
And can't tell where to find them;
Leave them alone, and they'll come home,
Bringing their tails behind them.
The pure fact is that not all wandering sheep make it back home, and not all Prodigals have an awakening in the pig pen. Sometimes the story just doesn’t turn out the way we would craft it.
But for those who would despair over a child’s life-choices, remember this double-tree divergence metaphor; it does not break down as most do. A tree is meant to grow strong and press on through the adversities of storms, drought and whatever time can throw at it.
A child, your child, might not choose the path you intended, but, then again, you’re not God directing that child’s pathway. Some trees serve a more noble purpose than others, but, like trees, God never placed a child on this earth without purpose. And sometimes (and those times aren’t for any of us to judge) God’s purpose may look quite different than we would have drawn on the canvas.
Can you rejoice with the noble oaks in your life? Can you rejoice with (what looks like) the weeds?
I Title image: By Wilhelm Hauschild (1827-1887) (www.pittstate.edu/engl/nichols/neuschcastle.jpg) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons