Sometimes, we come to a fork in the road. No map. No green and white signs suggesting which road leads where and how long it will take to get there. No futuristic robot, waving its arms in warning, “Danger, Will Robinson! Danger, Will Robinson!”
Nope. None of that.
Just azure skies, a gentle breeze, the scent of lilacs in the air and, perhaps, a bluebird or two, tying turquoise ribbons around our waists and singing a catchy tune.
We stand at the fork, stymied. Because there is only one us. No way to divide ourselves down the middle and safely explore each path, choosing the one to which we’re willing to commit, then going back to gather the other half of us, and continuing down the smooth roadway to glory, all in one piece.
Many years ago, I heard Andy Stanley preach about this dilemma of what to do when presented with two good choices and no clear indication from the heavenly host, or from our gut, or from our best girlfriend, about which choice is the better one for us.
Sometimes, Andy said, both choices are good and, no matter which one we choose, we have God’s blessing. I remember shaking my head when I heard that. Not the answer I needed. I remember brushing off that message and moving on with my life.
You and I both know how it goes, right? Either we stand at that fork in the road, getting frustrated at the bluebirds and growing weary of the scent of lilacs. We tap our toes on the asphalt road, our hands on our hips. We chew on our lip, or our fingernails. Eventually, we sit down on the road, the heat from the pavement pressing in through our blue jeans or our cotton sundress. We are paralyzed by the possibility we might not make the right choice.
We choose a path. And, a few feet or yards or miles into the journey, the clouds roll in and then crack wide open with rain that falls sideways because of the relentless winds — winds that whip up musty, rotted leaves and angled branches riddled with decay. We want nothing more than to retreat and choose the other path. Surely, we convince ourselves, the other path is the better path. We turn around to retrace our steps and see the road behind us has been flooded out, the path lost beneath a roiling tide of what looks and smells like raw sewage and we wonder how we got ourselves in this mess.
“I knew it!” we think to ourselves, picking up our pace, lest we be swept away in the flood. “I made the wrong choice! I want the other path!” we yell into the putrid air, frustrated and disappointed enough to ball our hands into fists that we use to punctuate our sentences, our ragged nails pressing into the palms of our hands.
I never choose the easy path, I want to mutter over my shoulder to people like Andy Stanley. What does he know, anyway? I ask myself.
If Andy Stanley could answer me, he’d probably say something like, “Who said anything about an easy path?” To which someone further along on the journey would probably respond, “Amen!” and I would try not to roll my eyes.
Easy isn’t necessarily God’s game plan, no matter which path we choose. When we finally choose a path and strike out on it, hopes high and backs straight, easy isn’t necessarily part of the deal. Rahab, Esther, Sarah, Naomi, Ruth, Deborah. Lots of rough roads between them, yes? And lots of beauty, too. Not the Sephora kind of beauty, that’s for sure. No, more like the hard-won beauty that doesn’t reflect back in a mirror.
Truth is, when faced with a fork in the road, when faced with two good options, we have God’s blessing. No matter which path we choose, it won’t be a dead end. Don’t let the storms fool you. Don’t let fear paralyze you. God is your personal God. He will never leave your side. He sees you, and he will see you through. There is sunlight ahead. The road is smooth and flat and dry, just around the bend. I promise you. God promises you. Keep going.