By Lynn Jones
“The woods are lovely, dark, and deep/But I have promises to keep/And miles to go before I sleep.” Robert Frost’s words in “Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening” never fail to challenge and inspire me.
Frost is not the first person ever to sound that note. Years before, Jesus Christ said the same about His own life. He was twelve years old when He became separated from His parents on a trip to Passover in Jerusalem. When His parents found Him in the Temple talking with the teachers, Jesus said to His mother, “I must be about my Father’s business” (Luke 2:49). At this early age, He was committing Himself to focusing on what the Father had sent Him to do. He had a powerful sense of purpose.
Not all people have that sense of direction in their lives. Dr. Seuss wrote in “Hunches by Bunches, “Today was quite an awful day for me and my pup/ My trouble was I had a mind, but I couldn’t make it up.” That is the trouble with many of us.
When Jesus began His public ministry, He had made up His mind to do the Father’s will. He knew what lay ahead in Jerusalem, including His death upon the cross. It made no difference. Luke recorded, “He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51) and refused to stop short of that. His life was driven by this purpose and direction.
Followers of Christ are challenged to be the same. We are to focus on Jesus, who endured the cross as the ultimate example of staying on course with His life and can inspire us to do the same (Heb. 12:1-3).
William Barclay said, “There are two great days in our lives—the day we are born and the day we discover why we are born.” When I was 18 years old, I discovered that the Lord was calling me to be a minister. It was a discovery that made all the pieces of my life fit together and gave me profound meaning and purpose. That Sunday afternoon after making that discovery, I went back to my room and wrote in my Bible, “I have decided to follow Jesus.” Then I wrote this promise, “There can be no turning back.” I have not always done a very good job of following Him, but that commitment to doing so is unchanged and continues to give me direction and guidance.
The poet wrote, “Old promises must pledge themselves anew each day/ Or, unrenewed, pass quietly away.” We must constantly renew and deepen our promises for them to last.
As Robert Frost wrote, “The woods are lovely, dark, and deep/But I have promises to keep/And miles to go before I sleep.” In this new year, so do I, and so do we all!
Lynn Jones is a retired pastor who lives in Oxford. He does supply preaching for churches in his area and often serves as an interim pastor. Jones is also an author, has written two books and writes a weekly newspaper column. He may be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org.