Two Roads Diverged In A Wood…

When we think about decisions, the classical picture of two roads diverging in a wood comes to mind:

forestfork

Mostly we live our days dealing with one decision at a time because that is all that we can manage. Is it any wonder that with such a perspective we often end up traveling along a path that we regret. In reality, we would have to consider the wider course of our actions and the cumulative impact of many decisions. This is subject to strenuous probability analysis and even advanced calculations cannot eliminate the uncertainty. Our daily path through reality involves many separate and simultaneous decisions, and should be visualized from a bird’s eye view:

decision-tree

Apart from the decision paralysis that would likely result from such a perspective, this picture – albeit more realistic – is just not welcoming to the 99.999% of the population who aren’t totally captivated by probability and graph theory. Let’s narrow our focus to a particular thought experiment:

Let’s say that we can condense each day into a binary decision. In this simplified model, the decision will be the answer to a question. Will I follow God’s plan for my life today? If we respond with a yes then we choose the right hand path, and if we respond with a no we choose the left hand path. We progress along that path until we get to the next day when we are confronted with the same decision. Over the course of a year we make 365 of these decisions resulting in 2^365 unique paths. That’s more than 7,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000  distinct paths.

Only one of them consists of following God’s plan for our lives every day for a year. This mathematical example helps demonstrate to us the validity of the words of Jesus concerning the narrow road:

Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.

Matthew 7:13-14

These incontrovertible odds cannot be overcome through any amount of human strength, will, effort, intelligence, cunning, planning, or determination. We must trust in God to provide the grace that we need every day to make the right decisions. Our focus shouldn’t be on the expanded decision tree, because our perception of it will likely be flawed and it is largely out of our control. What we must do is to follow the direction of the Holy Spirit for each one of the forks that we face. The Lord is faithful and true, and He will never lead us away from His will for our lives. The Word of God is indeed a lamp for our feet and a light for our path.

There is a way that seems right to a man, but the end of all but one of these essentially infinite paths is destruction. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. Follow Him in every decision. He is the way!

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