Friday, October 28, 2011

Follow the Ancient Paths

The Ancient Paths
"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)
I love great quotes. The Bible is definitely my #1 source, but then there are songs, books, poems, movies etc. Back in college my friend Kirk and I used to see how long a conversation we could have stringing together lines from the music we were listening to on the radio!
  • Me (coming in from a long shift working security): "Do You want to know a secret?"
  • Kirk: "Shout!"
  • Me: "It's been a hard day's night."
  • Kirk: "You'll get by with a little help from your friends..."
  • Me: "It's like I'm working 'Eight Days A Week.'"
  • Kirk: "Run For Your Life!"
  • Me: "I'm going to sit right down and cry."
  • Kirk: "Let it Be."
And that was just titles of Beatles tunes!

Jeremiah: But I digress... The quote from Jeremiah Six is a great one. I've read it many times, but today I went back and looked at the words in context. So here it is again, but this time with a little more: 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.’  I appointed watchmen over you and said, ‘Listen to the sound of the trumpet!’ But you said, ‘We will not listen.'"

Reality check: Now, rather than a nice quote about people finding ancient paths, this is God speaking, and God is saying: "I keep offering you great advice about how to find your way, but you turn me down every time!"

God points out two things that we all tend to say on a regular basis:
  1. We say, "Thanks but no-thanks, God; we choose not to walk in the ancient paths..."
  2. And we also say, "That's nice, God, but we will not listen..."
That amounts to one astounding observation about human nature. But it resonates on so many levels. Here's one quick story about this, then I'm done.
My "Men's Room" small group is studying the psalms; we've had various versions (all pretty-much the same) of the following conversation recently:
  • Me: "This week, let's make the commitment to read this psalm (Psalm 23; Psalm 46; Psalm 100; Psalm 8...) out loud at the beginning of the day, each and every day. Then refer back to it several times during each day. The result will be a powerful affirmation of God's word and a daily invitation to live in response to faith."
  • Men's Group: "That's a great plan!" "Yes, that's what we'll do!" "Let's do it! I can't wait to see how God infiltrates my mind and heart!"
So what happens? You may have guessed what's coming here. Fast forward to the next Wednesday:
  • Me: "Let's start out by sharing some stories about how God worked in our lives as a result of our decision to walk in the ancient paths over the past week."
  • Men's Group: ....... ("crickets")...... ("awkward silence")....
Now I'm not throwing the entire group under the bus! There's always someone, maybe even two or three out of the 12-15 in attendance, who report back how God moved in their lives simply because they followed through on their commitment to spend deliberate time in God's presence on a day-by-day basis.

Peace on the Journey...
But our tendency (and this is God's point in the Jeremiah passage) even though we know the truth and we know God, is to hear God say, "Listen to the sound of the trumpet," and then respond, "WE WILL NOT LISTEN!"
I wonder why that is?

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