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Years ago when I was in seminary, they did some beautiful stonework around the campus, and it included making a new wall and new walkways. The stone mason was amazing in his craft and many of us enjoyed watching him fit those stones together for that wall without any use of mortar or binding material. You can see it today if you want to visit the campus in Wake Forest. It is amazing craftsmanship for sure.
The walkways were a bit different and came a number of years later. A friend often commented that the walkways were a bit misplaced. In a tongue-in-cheek kind of way, he noted that it’s best to make new walkways and sidewalks on the foot trails that people already walk. In other words, you can construct a beautiful walkway, but people are still gonna walk the familiar and sometimes shortest path to their destination.
We laughed and thought of the trails that cows make in the pasture. Ever seen any cow trails? Those kinds of trails are also made by folks like us as we make our way to our destination day-in and day-out.
Now, that makes me think about trails and paths as we pursue destinations in life. Sometimes we blaze a trail where no one has been before, and sometimes we walk well-worn, dusty paths many have walked in the journey of life.
The Bible, God’s Holy and inerrant Word, teaches us a lot about how to walk the journey of life. In particular, the prophet Jeremiah reveals a Word from God about just such a thing…“Thus says the Lord: ‘Stand in the ways and see, And ask for the old paths, where the good way is, And walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls,’” (Jeremiah 6:16).
Jeremiah received this Word from the Lord and was to proclaim it to a people who were in desperate need of revival. If you read on in the chapter, you will see what I mean. But as I read this, I see it as a beautiful and loving admonition to return to the God who loves and desires the best for His people — a God who desires to guide and direct His people on their path.
It’s clear that the “Old Paths” were something to not only look for, but return to.
The Lord gives a command to stand, see, ask, walk, find, and then you find rest. Is all that really in that short passage? It sure is. Further still, this teaching compels us to look to the Old Paths and experience these things in our day, as well.
The path we’re on may be familiar, and we can rely on sheer experience as we navigate the journey. Or perhaps it is like the Nation of Israel as it came to the Jordan River and had “not passed this way before,” (Joshua 3:3-4). Treading a new path requires faith and trust, and perhaps that is exactly where you find yourself today. I can promise you that if you trust in the Lord with all your heart and don’t lean on your own understanding — if you acknowledge the Lord in every way — He will direct your path, (Proverbs 3:5-6). Ever heard that before?
You and I are indeed on a path in this life, and it is leading somewhere. Is your path heading away from God today? If so, stop and look and do just what Jeremiah 6 teaches: Stand, see, ask, walk, and then you will find rest.
Return to the Old Paths where you once found yourself closest to God and be sure to walk and talk with Him there. As a matter of fact, why not meet with Him and rest a while? You will gain the good portion and find new strength for the rest of your journey.
Steve and Belinda Kirk write the “Everyday Grace” devotional for the Johnstonian News. Reach them at 919-449-5745 and firstname.lastname@example.org.