The Long and Winding Road

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."

- Robert Frost
I was thinking last night about all of the big decisions I have made in my life, and how each one joined with the others to make me who I am today. Some major decisions were made without any agony of the soul. They were the right things to do at the time and, there have been no serious regrets about them since.
I hate to confess, too, that I haven't always prayed over the decisions I have made. The results were not always very good, either.
But the following list contains some of the clear choices I have made over the years. These were bathed in prayer and were still attended with some doubt when I made them. And they all ended up being more consequential than I realized at the time. "We are our choices," wrote Jean-Paul Sartre.
The decision to give my heart and life fully to Jesus Christ in 1967. That commitment certainly set the trajectory of my life--and determined all the rest that would follow.
2. Hearing God's call to ministry, and saying an enthusiastic “Yes" while on a youth choir mission trip to Jamaica in 1968.
3. Choosing which college to attend in 1972. It would be VCU in Richmond, only so that I could attend a certain church in that city, and learn all I could from their pastor, Vander Warner.
4. Asking Audrey Faye Baker to be my wife and ministry partner. We wed in 1977. (And if her parents had allowed to go to Liberty where she really wanted to go, rather than Longwood in Farmville we never would have met. My first church was in Farmville--and she walked in one Sunday night in September, 1974.)
5. Staying one night at the El Caribe Hotel, Daytona Beach, 1981
6. To have a child. John Mark would be born on March 20, 1984.
7. Leaving Orlando and moving to Danville, VA, in 1989. A smaller church and a much smaller city. But this is where we flourished and were able to do things we never could have imagined before.
8. Then moving to Alexandria, VA and FBCA in 2005 and life-long dreams came true!
And are coming true still.
You may know the prayer of Thomas Merton. I have prayed it many times over the years:
“My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.

 But I believe that the desire to please you
does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
 And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road,
 though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always though
I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”




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