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All the Difference

Lynne Bollinger | NTS Class of 2016
Master of Arts in Intercultural Studies Degree Program

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
- Robert Frost, 1920.

My husband travels for work.  When people see me on Sunday mornings at church and I happen to be alone, they always ask, “Where is Larry?”  They know he travels for work and so they expect my answer to be some remote place in the corner of the world.  The places where Larry travels are not the places where most people go; in fact, they are the places most people tend to avoid.  
North Korea.

Talk about a road less traveled.  There is no beaten path to North Korea.  But the places where God has taken Larry have certainly made all the difference in his life.  The stories he tells from his travels are nothing less than the continuation of the unmistakable work of God and God’s mission happening in the most unlikely places.  

I could share the same story; not of my travels across the world but of God’s mission happening in the most unlikely of people-perhaps in the most unlikely of places.  How did God find me?  He went to great lengths – I was a young girl and my single mother found herself facing homelessness with her five children.  But God found us and intruded into our lives through the obedience of a servant whose name was Doris.  Doris took us in.  We were ages 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13.  There is not a long waiting list of people hopeful to take in a divorcee with her five pre-teen and teenage children.  Nevertheless, Doris heard God speak and she obeyed.

My pastor recently shared these wise words in a Sunday morning sermon: “The power of witness trumps an expert every time.”  He was referring to those who witnessed and experienced a life transformation after encountering Jesus.  Their testimony of what Christ did for them is more powerful to us than the experts of Jewish law who may have known all about the prophesied Messiah but failed to experience Jesus. Even with all their wisdom, they sadly missed the opportunity to be a witness of the living Word, the living Lord.  

As I look back on my own life there were places where the roads diverged, even as a young pre-teen girl.  The path that I chose to take - I can see now, it was saturated by the grace of God.  As I sit in my office at NTS, whether I am doing the work of 365m or doing my homework for Doctrine of Holiness or Theology of Mission, I am on a journey down a road that I could have never foreseen.  There have been people along the way who have come alongside and whispered the words of Christ in my ear.  Doris was one.  There have been many others who are now a part of my personal great cloud of witnesses. 

Two years ago, the road diverged for me and I chose the path toward NTS.  God continues to use the most unlikely people from the most unlikely places to walk a path that will make all the difference.  My time here continues to be saturated in the grace of God –it is easier to see it now, but it is no less remarkable.  


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