“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.”
(“The Road Not Taken” — Robert Frost)
I read this familiar poem on the side of a coffee cup the other day and couldn’t help but laugh to myself: Nope. That’s definitely not me.
You see, as an English teacher, I think this poem is… how do I say this? Quaint. I appreciate it for the literary staple and genius it is, but it has never been the way that I handle life. No, I don’t methodically look at my options in life, nor do I opt to take the path less traveled– I take all of the paths possible.
Historically, my approach to life has been to run down every. single. possible. path that is laid before me and not stop running (to and from things) until God gently grabs my arm, pulling me back to His plan. (Or, sometimes if I’m being really stubborn, He constructs a wall for me to slam myself into at full speed, forcing me to stop.)
Hello, my name is Kacy and I readily admit that I am a runner by nature. (This is the spot where you say, “Hi, Kacy…” in the best monotone AA drawl you’ve got.)
As my Alaskan D-day has approached, I’ve sensed that running itch deep in my soul. But in true form to this season, and a promise that I felt the Lord give me back in April, He is doing a new thing in my heart.
He isn’t allowing me to run.
Every time I start to get antsy, God quietly tells me to put away the anxious tendencies of my past and simply be still.
For the record (and in case you’re new here), I don’t sit still well…
I run myself ragged at work and I hike and play volleyball on the weekends and I don’t sleep and then I go back to being awake 19 hours of the day, burning the candle at both ends. But I most certainly do not sit still. (Yes, I confess that I’ve purchased and subsequently drank the “You have to be ‘doing something’ to be valuable” American Kool-Aid. Busyness is an idol in my life, just as it is worshiped by our culture.)
But in this season, my running, Kool-Aid drinking tush has been benched.
Every stinkin’ time I’ve tried to run– be it to new experiences, or from pain and hard conversations, or prayer when I would rather be watching Law & Order SVU on Netflix– I’ve heard some variation of the instruction to sit and wait on the Lord.
For weeks the phrase I heard in my quiet time (as I tried to prematurely box up my life) was “Stay. Be present.” This gave way to God’s best ghetto command in the middle of relational upheaval: “Sit. down. and pray, child.” (I secretly love it when God goes a little bit “ghetto church lady” on me when I get a little too stubborn…)
I sat at ProsperOats (Hashtag: Shameless Denverite plug for my friends’ breakfast bar) ridiculously early one morning this week. As I sat and prayed, trying not to fall asleep in my smoothie, I asked the Lord if He had a new word to accompany the change of seasons I seemed to be teetering on the edge of. “Sit down and pray” just didn’t seem to fit right anymore.
As I meditated (slash napped with my eyes open…), “Sit down and pray” yielded to “Sit and breathe Me in”.
Hmmm… Another sitting commandment… Of. Course.
Lord, I’m so stinkin’ sick of sitting! I whined internally as I pulled out my pencil and jotted down this thought.
I felt a sudden, but hazy urge to study breathing. This led to a super theological Google search of the term “breathe”. Immediately an anatomy book diagram of lungs surrounding a heart popped up as the first search result on my phone.
Too tired to think too deeply about anything, I grabbed my pencil and started sketching a pair of lungs. As I outlined and shaded in the sketch in my journal, the words to the All Sons and Daughters song Great Are You Lord started ringing in my ears.
You give life. You are Love. You bring light to the darkness.
You give hope. You restore every heart that is broken.
Great are You, Lord.
It’s Your breath in our lungs, so we pour out our praise, we pour out our praise to You only.
And all the earth will shout Your praise. Our hearts will cry, these bones will sing, Great are You, Lord.
I stared at the diagram on my phone and suddenly felt overwhelmed by realizations about life.
How beautiful is it that we are alive simply because of the breath in our lungs?
I mean, the breath that oxygenates and powers my severely sleep deprived body is a gift from God. That same breath is the breath that we sing out when we praise God– or that we heave out in between deep, broken sobs when we sit crying at His feet when things don’t go the way we think they should.
Our very breath is a gift from God that is meant to show us something about who He is.
And don’t even get me started on the fact that He created our lungs– the lungs that I have taken for granted as a mere organ that keeps me alive– to surround and protect our hearts in the most literal sense.
Are. You. Freaking. Kidding. Me?!
How crazy is that?
How crazy is it that when we are brokenhearted, but use His breath to sing out to Him, that we feel His protection and love in ways we didn’t think were possible?!
I know that’s not a coincidence. No, that is His beautiful creation.
And in the midst of a season where I feel a little bit over exposed and fearful, even a little under protected, it is His breath in my lungs that is protecting my heart in the most literal of senses. And that reminder? That has been all consuming in the best of ways this week.
It is His breath that brings hope, redemption, and allows for new songs to be sung in the midst of changing seasons. It is because of His protection and grace that I can sing out, “Great are You, Lord!” even when I have no idea where I’m walking to or why I can’t run there.
May you experience the goodness of God in the breath in your lungs today. May you see the way that He protects our hearts when we use our lungs and His breath in them to praise Him.
“I waited and waited and waited for God.
He knelt down to me and listened.
He lifted me out of the ditch,
pulled me from deep mud.
He stood me up on a solid rock
to make sure I wouldn’t slip.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God.
More and more people are seeing this:
they enter the mystery,
abandoning themselves to God.”
(Psalm 40:1-3 MSG)