My daughter and I recently read The Shakespeare Stealer, by Gary  Blackwood. It’s an enjoyable work of historical fiction, set in Elizabethan England. Toward the end of the book, Widge, the protagonist, reaches a point where he has to choose between two paths; an easy path and a very difficult path. As he ponders his decision, he teaches the reader a valuable lesson.

“I had never been much of a hand for courage, either. When two paths were open to me- which is not often in the life of a prentice- I took the one easiest to travel, without regard to where it led. I had never deliberately chosen the perilous or demanding path.”

“But I had done many things recently that I had never done before, and never dreamed I would do. ‘Well’, I said with a sigh, ‘I suppose if Julian could be a boy for three years, I can be a girl for an hour or two.’”

Without even knowing what his choices involved, you can see that he took a deep breath and decided to take the difficult road. This particular choice wasn’t a matter of right or wrong, just a matter of personal growth, and reaching for a distant dream. In that one moment of decision, he changed his own life by doing the thing that was difficult, the thing that was unfamiliar,  instead of going the way he had always known, instead of going the easy way.

Later he is again faced with a choice; take the easy, familiar path, or take the unfamiliar, and perilous path.

“Once again, two paths opened before me, and I could take the expedient one, or the one that required courage.”

The former would relieve him of immediate adversity, but ultimately it would not bring freedom. The latter was indeed dangerous, but it was  the right thing to do, and it was the path that would lead to life. By choosing the difficult path, the one that required courage, he found freedom and a life he never before had even dreamed of.

John C Maxwell, in Be all you Can Be, says “Success is due to our stretching to the challenges of life. Failure comes when we shrink from them. There’s no such thing as a man who was born great.”

Are you standing at a place where two paths are opening before you? Is one path more difficult than the other but will lead to life and freedom? It may be something small like introducing yourself to someone new at church, or driving to an unfamiliar place. It may be something big like deciding to homeschool or to start a business. Maybe there’s a conflict brewing and you need to decide whether to deal with it or to let bitterness take root. I hope that you will “stretch to the challenges of life” and allow God to make you into exactly who He wants you to be. It may not be the easy way, but it just might be your path to freedom, and to abundant, powerful, passionate living.


Beth Cranford,

Choosing the path to life