My dad had an unorthodox method for getting his kids out of bed and ready for school. He opened the door, flipped on the lights, and sang with gusto, “This is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it. Rejoice! Rejoice! I will rejoice and be glad in it. This is the day that the Lord has made.” In our day, many would call Child Protection Services on such a parent. However, as we rubbed the boogers out, we wondered, “What is he so happy about?”
I couldn’t see it then, but dad was in the pressure cooker – raising a family, building a church, making ends meet. Dad sang because he wanted us up and out the door. But, at the same time, he was making a decision. He was singing for his soul. This was a sacrifice of praise. More than whistling in the wind, his song was a choice to be thankful for a new day. He was engaged in the spiritual discipline of gratitude.
In Robert Frost’s poem The Road Not Taken, a traveler in the wilderness of life comes to a fork in their journey.
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
At the fork, the traveler stopped to consider his options. He wanted to take both, but that was impossible. We also come to a similar split every day —the trail of tears or the path of praise. Like this traveler, we must choose. We can’t gripe and complain and be thankful at the same time.
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…
He considered the popular, well-worn path, looking down to where it bent in the undergrowth. But he took the other, the grassy one, wanting wear. The way of gratitude is the least traveled path.
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.
Why did Israel always choose the complaining path while traveling in the wilderness? The Bible mentions several – rebellion, stubbornness, forgetfulness, hardheartedness, and lack of faith. Here’s one more probable cause. They were offended and bitter at God. After 400 years of slavery, how could he lead them into a wilderness? Where were the good times? Where was easy street? Where was the milk and honey? They wouldn’t put their complete trust in a God who didn’t live up to their expectations. How small and trivial their expectations were. God had much greater plans, plans to fashion a people to fulfill his wonderful purposes.
Philippians 2:14-15 says, “Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’ Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky.”