28 July 2014

Choices

The poem by Robert Frost is one of those I had to memorize in high school, and therefore despised then. Who wants to learn only for the sake of examination? But this one, The Road Less Taken, has been so instructive, and so pivotal in my life, that I read it with measured frequency and today share it with you.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one 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.

What stands out to you in first reading? In second reading?

I really like "no step had trodden black." I had to make my own way. I'm not going to follow whatever is out there; I'm responsible for making 'my own way" Frost seems to be saying.

For me today however, the "knowing how way leads on to way" speaks. My choices from last month precipitate today's options. I can try to retreat to that month-ago option, but rarely make it back, as Frost says. What does that tell me? That what I do today will impact tomorrow. What I do this afternoon will actually limit the options I have next week. I am continually met with choices: people, time, resources to spend or not to spend. Events, activities, expenditures, sport, reading, writing, ... what are my choices? What are my options?

In the New American Standard Bible the word 'choice' appears 55 times. The word chosen 112 times. Chose 29 times. Choose 47 times. It's a big issue in Bible terms. For instance in Deut. 33.16 "And with the choice things of the earth and its fullness." This meaning is most often found in the Older Testament and carries the idea of 'best.'  In the Newer Testament the idea of election or option is most clearly seen in Romans 9-11. For instance, in Rom. 11.5 "In the same way then, there has also come to be at the present time a remnant according to God’s gracious choice." Here the Apostle Paul is saying that when God chose the Jewish people (Genesis 12), and again in the time of his life (about 50 AD) when Jewish believers in Jesus like himself are present, that those folks are the remnant and that God chose them as well. Doubly chosen, I suppose. His choice of Abraham in Genesis impacted His choice of Jewish believers in Jesus ( Messianic Jews ) in Paul's day.

The 2nd choice, Jews to become followers of Messiah Yeshua, does not override God's first choice. All Jews are still God's chosen people. Paul says that later in Romans 11. "From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but from the standpoint of God’s choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers." (verse 28) God's choice of Abraham continued to require the title 'chosen' on Jewish people in Paul's day, even if they rejected Paul's message of salvation in Yeshua. Because of God's love for Abraham and His choosing him back in about 2,000 BC, and because of God's loyalty to His own promises, Jewish people who reject our message of eternal life in Messiah are still chosen.

Why am I writing this today? Two reasons. One, I love Frost and want to remember that choices today impact tomorrow. And as a result I want to make very good and godly choices today. Second, I'm weary of the supersessionist viewpoints of some who tell me that the Church is God's new chosen people and thus, He is done with His promises to the Jews. If God were so cavalier to opt out of His choices and say, "Never mind" to all He has said before, then on what basis do we trust Him for tomorrow?

Make good choices. Today. Later today. Each one helps determine your life.

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