This is what the LORD says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.'” ~ Jeremiah 6:16 (NIV)
NOTE: I typed this up and was getting ready to hit “publish”. Then I noticed in the “related posts” that I’ve already done a post using this same verse and this same anecdote! If I wasn’t doing this blog-a-day thingy, I wouldn’t post this. Oh, well. I actually go a different route with the application, so maybe you’ll get something out of it even if the first part feels like deja vu 🙂
Kennesaw Mountain is one of my favorite hiking spots. It’s not far from my house, and it contains a whole network of trails. Depending on the mood you’re in, you can walk for a couple of miles, or you can walk all day. You will see Civil War ruins and deer. Lots of deer. You quickly forget that you’re in the middle of the chaos of Atlanta. It’s a real gem.
I was hiking there a few weeks ago, and came to the crest of a hill. A side path branches off at this point, with signs pointing towards the visitor’s center as well as several of the park’s landmarks. It’s not overly confusing, but if you haven’t been there before you might not know exactly which way to turn.
I stopped to catch my breath and take in the view from the hilltop. As I stood there, a man walked up, bringing with him a flurry of stress and frustration. “Excuse me, sir. Do you know the way to the visitor’s center?”
From our little crossroads, two of the three directions would go to the visitor’s center. One was a scenic but strenuous way up and over the mountain. The other was a little longer distance-wise, but was much easier and he would probably get there sooner.
As I started to explain this to the gentleman, he held up a hand.
“Sir, you don’t understand. I know these paths rather well.”
Whether he didn’t like my answer or was just too impatient to listen, I’ll never know. But the man boldly took off. Not on either of the trails that led to the visitor’s center, but on the third trail. In the opposite direction. At best, he was walking a couple of miles out of the way, but this involved making a turn onto a side trail at some point. If he stayed on the main path and followed it all the way around, it could be ten miles or more until he reached the visitor’s center.
The more I think about that guy, the more I realize we are alike. So often when I face decisions in life, I don’t seek advice. I just tear off on my own. “It’s OK, I know these paths rather well,” I think to my self, when that’s the furthest thing from the truth.
So much about the world today feels new and unprecedented. Just a few years ago, who ever would have thought we’d be carrying computers in our pocket? It’s tempting to say we’ve got new problems so we need to look for new answers.
But instead of saying “I’ve got this,” we should do what that verse above says. We should “ask where the good way is”. And there are so many places to ask:
1) The Bible – So many folks speak up for the right to own a Bible. But how many people actually crack it open on a regular basis? Cultivate a regular Bible reading habit, and you will see your life change before your very eyes. If you’re looking for a starting point, I love Rick Warren’s Bible Study Methods. It offers a dozen different techniques for delving into God’s Word. And the appendix offers one of the best guides for personal devotion.
“Cast your anxieties on him because he cares for you.” ~ 1 Peter 5:7
2) Prayer – God has made himself available. And he wants us to share what’s going on in our lives, big and small. Starting a habit of prayer takes patience and discipline, but it can be one of the most rewarding things you can do.
3) Conversation – Sometimes asking for the old paths is a literal thing. Look for people in your life you can ask for wisdom. Attend a small group at your church, or a neighborhood Bible study. Find an online book club. If done properly you will soon find that this goes two ways – you might be surprised to find that you’re the answer somebody else is looking for.
Speaking of conversation, I’d love to hear your thoughts! Do you have any insight on prayer, Bible study, or conversation? Did I leave something out? Let me know in the comments section!