“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.`”
– The prophet Jeremiah to Israel, Jeremiah 6:16, The Bible
Often when I travel, I have a compulsion to venture down side streets. Some of you know the ones I mean, narrow paths that veer away from the main road into an urban jungle of mystery. Their cobblestoned pathways and flickering shop lights seem to beckon you to explore further. Many a time, it was something tantalizing that caught my eye and worked its magic just as I nearly passed it by. “Is that a croissant shop?”, “An English language book store?”, “A Taco Bell in Tokyo?” (yet to happen). On the contrary, main streets just plain bore me. The masses of people that walk them know that they will most certainly lead to the coveted landmark that they so eagerly circled in that tour book. I want the thrill of something unknown! The spirit of adventure lands at your feet when you realize that the way you`ve chosen is off the beaten path. However, the very definition of adventure, “an unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity”, implies that there is some risk involved. The risk being, in this case, losing your way.
Jeremiah, son of Hilkiah, was a prophet to ancient Israel from 626-586 B.C. In his youth, he did not marry or have any children, but dedicated himself to one goal as a prophet; to encourage God`s people to return to their great lover, to the ancient paths that lead to Him. The records of Jeremiah`s ministry may be over 2500 years old, but the circumstances behind them are the same. We live in a world that is more connected than ever before by internet, satellite and other amazing human achievements. Yet, it is by these very means that daily we are all the more aware of the darkness and cruelty that not only exists in this world but seems to find new ways of showing us it`s face. Could it be that we humans have taken a step down an unknown path? Down a side street? Of course it is an invigorating thing to explore another city`s sights and sounds, without question. Still, if another path leads to another and then yet another and then our surroundings begin to darken, panic and despair can set in causing us to forget our original bearings and even go in the opposite direction of our destination. If choosing an alternate path in our lives because the main road to God is too “old fashioned” or well known leads to alienation from Him, then it is a dark path indeed. We don`t need to accept this darkness though when the promises of warm, guiding light have been spoken by the most faithful and pure lips we will ever know.
Ah, but maybe that`s the problem, you don`t know. The world as a whole does not know. If that is the case then how do we return to the ancient paths that lead to our true Father? What are they even? The Old testament of the Bible contains books like Deuteronomy and Leviticus that stated God`s laws to his people. They not only called for them to refrain from self destructive behavior that everyone else in the world enjoyed but they provided glimpses of His personality, His desires and holiness. Prophets and missionaries like Jeremiah and later the Apostle Paul fasted to get close to God and hear His every word, studying the Old Testament and soaking in His character. Sound a bit daunting? Then how`s this for an amazing start. The Lord saw the need for mankind to be reunited with Him. He felt the weight of the laws, directives and rules on us without a hand to comfort, guide and keep us steady. So He sent His son, Jesus Christ, Immanu-el, which means “God with us” in Hebrew. Jesus would be the living, breathing face of God to you and me, the One to show us how to love one another and forgive even when it hurts. To be kind to more than just those who are related to us by blood, since He poured out His own for every nation and tribe. God for the world, desperately calling out with dramatic action rather than just wise words. Do you want to return to the ancient paths? Do you want to know your God? Then come to the One who declares He is “the WAY, the Truth and the Life”, Jesus, the eternal path. (John 14:6)