It was a Monday in the run-up to Easter 2011. Over the next 4 weeks, I would hear a friend of mine do a series of Lent talks. She must have felt overwhelmed at being asked to address people from every church in town. This particular night, we chatted over plastic cups of tea until it was time to start. She spoke about the beginnings of the NHS, intertwining it with verses from the Bible and a plea for us to act justly and treat others with compassion. Near the end, she read a verse I’d never noticed before:
“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. It didn’t seem to tie up with anything she’d said, but it stood out a mile for me. I knew it was a God-moment, but I didn’t know what it meant. It’s not a verse you hear often, but I’ve heard it 2 or 3 times since then, and every time I’ve wondered: What are these ancient paths?
Well, today I got my answer. I had the radio on, and Jarrod Cooper was talking about the times when God’s met with us in the past. He said to think of those encounters with God not just as memories, but as wells of water we can drink from. “Therefore with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation” – Isaiah 12:3. I did as Jarrod suggested and thought of a time when I felt very close to God, and as I thought back to it, I felt such peace. He encouraged us that on those days when we feel dry and stale, we don’t have to be thirsty because there are wells within us that we can go to for refreshment. These are the ancient paths.
There may be people who struggle with the concept of looking back to the past for our sustenance. Shouldn’t we focus on the future? I asked that question too, but I’m discovering it’s all through the Bible. A verse Jarrod quoted was Psalm 42:6: “My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember You”, and I thought of Habakkuk’s prayer to God: “I stand in awe of your deeds, O Lord. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known” – Habakkuk 3:2. He wanted God to do something new, but he never forgot what God had done in the past.
If you’re reading this, are you nodding your head in agreement, or shaking it in confusion? Maybe you’ve never had a time when you’ve felt that connection between you and God. If that’s the case, I would really encourage you to let Jesus into your life – Jesus who died to make that connection possible.