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….”
Jeremiah 6:16 (NIV)
I’ve been contemplating this verse in recent months, especially the “ancient paths.” This Scripture was written at a time when the LORD was calling his people back to him. He is the Ancient of Days and so I believe the LORD was calling them back to walking with him along the good way. (Sadly, the last part of that verse I didn’t include says, “But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’” I know that I want to walk in the good way and find rest for my world weary soul so I am focusing on that portion of the verse.)
As has happened so many times before in my spiritual life, a number of things converged that all pointed toward a bigger picture God was revealing to me.
Ask Where the Good Way Is
One evening I (unintentionally but led by the Holy Spirit, I’m sure) started down a rabbit hole of visiting new-to-me blogs. Jeremiah 6:16 figured prominently in one of them and then another. In the weeks ahead, I spent many hours reading and reflecting on what these bloggers had written. It was like a balm to my weary soul.
I had finished reading The Benedict Option which was thought-provoking. Rod Dreher calls people to consider what it means to walk with the Lord in a culture that is increasingly hostile toward everything Christianity has stood for through the centuries. (I absolutely do not discuss politics on this website so I won’t say much more other than the fact that while I appreciated how The Benedict Option gave me lots to think about I’ve given up trying to read his column because there’s just too much vitriol in both his posts and the comments. I wish it wasn’t so, but it is.)
Which leads me to the last piece of the big picture that was coming together.
I was growing increasingly weary of feeling like I was drowning in a sea of vulgarity and anger everywhere I went online. It’s nearly impossible to go on Facebook and not come away feeling assaulted either emotionally or visually whether it is pictures, graphics, or profanity. I like to read and interact online regarding current events, but to do so today requires immersing yourself in the vulgarity and wrathful, hateful anger of others. At times, I’ve read and linked to things on Facebook that were vulgar and not edifying and yet are part of our national dialogue. Where does one cross the line? How am I contributing to this destructiveness? And is it worth it to constantly be assaulted with vulgarity and anger so we can participate in conversations? Is it worth it to be roused to anger as well, anger that is often not righteous anger?
All of this started me contemplating what it means to teach my child to walk in the ancient paths. How much around us do we reject and how much do we allow into our lives simply because it is truly necessary?
Walking the Ancient Paths
So often when these conversations come up, people will rush in to condemn the person writing them. “Life was never perfect in the past” and “You can’t romanticize the past.” This isn’t about romanticizing the past. This is about walking the ancient paths with the Ancient of Days. It’s about choosing to walk in the good ways with God in the midst of a culture much like the one in Jeremiah’s time. Jeremiah 6 tells us that people were greedy, deceitful, detestable, without shame, and “they do not even know how to blush.”
When was the last time you saw someone blush? When was the last time you saw someone who was embarrassed by what was said or done in their presence?
When did blushing stop being a virtue and instead become something to mock?
I want to be distressed by things that are detestable and vulgar. I want to be sickened by things that are ugly and sinful. I want to be grieved by things that are contrary to the holiness and beauty of the Savior.
I don’t want to be desensitized to evil and I don’t want my child to be desensitized either so that she is tempted to walk paths that are not the ancient paths.
I want to continue to walk in the light of Philippians 4:8 –
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
I want to walk the ancient paths with the Ancient of Days.
I want to show my daughter how to walk the ancient paths with the Ancient of Days.
Ask for the Ancient Paths
People sometimes choose a word for the year. I’ve done it some years and other years not. But I think my phrase for 2018 may be “ask for the ancient paths.” It is my desire to ask the Lord to show me what the ancient paths are. I’m going to ask him to show me the things in our lives, in our home, in our attitudes, and in our faith that don’t fit with walking the ancient paths with the Ancient of Days and then adjust our course accordingly with His help.