❝For when a few years have come, I shall go the way from which I shall not return.❞ Job 16:22
Reflection by Sandra Giles
Some commentators say Job is talking about death here, that way from which he will not return. The way which should be like a “release from prison,” an “entrance into everlasting happiness,” according to Matthew Henry. The way of all flesh. The long journey. The ultimate sleep. Solace from Job’s many afflictions.
But I have to confess that’s not what came to my mind when I first read the verse. It reminds me of a poem by Robert Frost, “The Road Not Taken.” These lines particularly resonate:
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
Someone explained story structure to me this way: at the beginning of a story, the main character has all kinds of options available to her, all sorts of choices. So she walks through one door, and that narrows the number of choices, but she still has a number of them in front of her. Then she chooses another door, which narrows the number, and so on, and so on, so that you, the writer, reach the end of the story when you have only one outcome left.
We write our own lives. Our choices determine our path and our ultimate outcome. Sometimes that thought triggers claustrophobia for me, because I prefer to think I still have every path and all options open to me. But the truth is, if I still have every path open, then I haven’t accomplished anything. I haven’t made any choices. I’m stuck at the fork of the road in indecision. Or like Job at this point in his story, stuck in afflictions and tribulations. Job had faith there would be an end to the cycle he was stuck in. So should I.