I took the road less traveled,
and that has make all the difference.

My wife, two daughters and I recently spent a weekend in the mountains of Oaxaca.  We had a great time and took lots of pictures. I was looking at the pictures the other day and one particularly stood out for me. The one above. A lonely, rarely used road that we came upon on one of our hikes. It reminded me of the Robert Frost poem –

The Road Not Taken

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.

I remember reading that poem in high school. After reading the poem I thought that in my life, I would like to take the road less traveled.

I grew up in a Christian family. We went to church three times a week.  I decided to follow Jesus at an early age. That was my first step on the road less traveled. Jesus said in Matthew 7 that wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow is the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Few choose that path. In a sense, the Christian road is a road less traveled.

But as I went to church week after week and year after year, I began to notice that everyone around me had more or less the same life; were on the same road. They all had more or less “American middle class” jobs, lived in “American middle class” houses and drove “American middle class” cars. It seemed to me that everyone was on the “American middle class” road. Hardly a road less traveled. It seemed more like a 12 lane highway and  the whole world seemed to be beating a path to join the crowd on the “American” road.

Fortunately we went to a church that stressed missions and regularly had missionaries come visit and share about what the missionary life was like. They regaled us with stories of making long treks to reach indigenous tribes in dark jungles and preach the Good News of what Jesus had done for them and that by believing in Him, they could live happy, abundant, lives.

Those stories made a deep impression on me. The missionaries were definitely  on the road less traveled. They had a faith in God that I rarely saw, and a trust in Jesus that enabled them go where few had gone, and do important things that few people were doing.

So I decided to go to Bible College and study missions, so that I too could be a missionary and travel that road.

Studying that life I became sorely disappointed. I learned that missionaries have to get bucket-loads of cash before they could even leave America, and then every four years come back to America to get more cash. I wanted to go to a foreign country, live there permanently, and trust God to provide for my needs. I came to the conclusion that I must not be cut out for that particular less traveled road.

I lived many years in the good ole USA , travelling the “American” road and was never satisfied that this was the road for me, but not knowing what to do about it. Thank God I discovered Foundation for His Ministry and a missionary road that suits me just fine. FFHM operates homes for needy children in different parts of Mexico. I visited the first one they established in the Baja peninsula of Mexico. It was incredible. They not only took in poor, abused, abandoned children and fed them, schooled them, loved them and shared with them about the love of God, but they also fed and clothed the hungry and oppressed in nearby agricultural work camps. They also did a lot of evangelistic outreach to children and adults in those camps. They also had a medical clinic that treated sick people for free.

I learned that each volunteer or staff worker received a monthly stipend, along with a place to stay and meals. “What more could a dedicated Christian who wants to do God’s work need?” I thought.

 I made many trips in the following years to help out as best I could, always thinking that one day I would not have to leave, but would be a permanent part of this marvelous organization. One day I would be on the road less traveled that I had always dreamed of and never get off.

FFHM started a new work in the southern Mexico state of Oaxaca, and I was at a place in my life where I could say, “Adios” to the ” American ” broad highway, and be fully engaged on the road less traveled. I sold or gave away everything that would not fit in my Toyota Corolla and headed south.

That was fifteen years ago, and I have never been happier. My decision to take the road less traveled has indeed made “all the difference.”

Writing this, I have no intention to denigrate or put down all those Christians in America who are following their own road less traveled and are doing incredible, innovative things to make a huge difference in millions of hurting lives. I am simply giving an account of my own Road Less Traveled, and hope to encourage others who might be stuck in a rut on the Main Street of life to consider what joys God may have in store for them if they strike out on their own Road Less Traveled. Thanks to all the supporters of FFHM who travel their own little road and faithfully make donations and sponsor the children, the poorest of the poor, in Mexico, so that one day, these kids can also follow God’s road less traveled. Without faithful donors, this endeavor would not be possible.

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One picture of sin we get from the New Testament is an archer shooting an arrow at at target and trying to hit the bullseye, but missing every time.  Sin is missing what we are aiming at; missing the goal; being short of the mark.  An important question comes to mind, what is the bullseye. What is the mark we are trying to hit?  Some theologians say say “Holiness”.  The Bible says that we are to be Holy as God is Holy.”  Like that is ever going to happen! We definitely come up short there.

Others quote the scriptures that say we are to “love God with all our being and love our neighbors as ourselves” .  Once again, not gonna happen. Our default mode is to hate God and despise our neighbor!

As I have been pondering the question, I have come to the conclusion that Happiness is the bullseye that every human is trying to hit. I believe that God loves us and wants us to be happy! He has hardwired our brain to desire happiness above all. That’s what humanity is aiming for, striving to achive, wanting to experience. But most people miss the mark, at least in the long run.  In essence, they sin. Why? Well that’s the ironic thing. It’s because they want to be happy.

Let me explain. Just like most things in life, there is a right way and a wrong way. There is a right way to be happy and and a wrong way.  There is immediate gratification happiness, which is many times the wrong way, and there is Bible Happiness which is the right way and leads to eternal happiness.

I like to think of happiness as a computer game. Back in the day, a long time ago in a land far away, I used to make computer games. All my games naturally came with instructions. If a player read the instructions and paid close attention to them, then he or she was more likely to slay the evil enemy, gather heaps of treasure, and be happy.  The opposite was true if the player didn’t read the instructions. He or she would be frustrated, defeated and die poor and needless to say, be unhappy.

I’ve begun to look at the human being, the human brain as a Happiness Game, that God created. Like I say, He loves us and wants us to be happy! We are a Happiness Game and God gave us instructions to win the Happiness Game. It’s called the Bible. Here are some principles from the Bible to win Happiness.

I think a key verse is Romans 3:22-24.  “Righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.  Everyone has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and everyone is justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” (  My loose paraphrase)

Righteousness is living in right relationship with God. True and abiding happiness is impossible without this. Everyone has attempted to be happy without righteousness and has failed and has fallen short of the glory of God. God is glorified when people are happy, living in right relationship with him. We are able to live in right relationship with God through justification, grace and redemption through Jesus Christ.

Here are a few other basic principles to “winning the Happiness Game –

1. We face three fearsome enemies in this game – The World, The Flesh, and The Devil. I mentioned earlier that many times we are not happy because we want to be happy. What I mean by that is that the three fearsome enemies sneak up on us and offer us a fake, short term happiness that in the long run makes us sad, miserable, suffering creatures. So, rule number one, avoid The World, The Flesh and The Devil.

2. Realize you are a Loser! (Many of the principles to winning the Happiness Game are antithetical to normal computer games) To be happy we must realize that we can never be truly happy on our own, using our own abilities, trusting our own smarts.  The Bible instructions say, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways look to God for guidance” and you will be happy .

3. Love your human enemies. We should hate and fight against the World, the Flesh and the Devil, which are spiritual enemies, but love all humans, even those we consider enemies. As I mentioned above, this is one of those principles that goes against common thought. In most computer games you hate your enemies and try to spill their blood. In this game you must forgive your enemies; help your enemies; pray for your enemies, if you want to be deeply happy.

4. Be a Transformer. Romans 12 tells us not to be conformed to this World, but be transformed by the renewing of our mind. We renew our minds by meditating on the instructions, the Bible. Doing this we learn the significance of concepts like Grace, Justification, Redemption, World, Flesh and Loving our enemies. The more we understand these Biblical Truths, the happier we will be.

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Don’t live in the world and go to church,

but live in the church and go into the world.

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