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)
You’ve got to love the image. It reminds me of the last scene from Castaway—standing at a crossroads, looking one way and then the next, trying to determine which way to go. It is so indicative of life, and those moments in life when we are in need of guidance and direction. It is at those times when we often find our way to this verse in Jeremiah. And why not? After all, it is such a rich and helpful image.
But maybe the big mystery here lies not in determining which way we should go, not in figuring out what and where the good way is, but in deciding whether or not we are willing to walk in it. It is not so much a question of discernment as it is a question of willingness. It is not as much about a destination as it is about a journey. After all, we are encouraged by Jeremiah to ask for the ancient paths, to ask where the good way is, and to walk in it. It seems to me that the ancient paths have never changed and probably never will. That’s why they’re ancient, right? They are the paths that the saints and pilgrims and poets of all times and in all centuries have walked before us. They are those well-worn, time-honored practices by which believers throughout the course history have walked with God. They are things like prayer and fasting and meditating on God’s word. They are stillness and silence and solitude. They are worship and sacrament and community. That is the good way. It is not mysterious or elusive. It is right there in front of us. The way we walk with God has never changed and never will. The only question is, are we willing to walk in it? Or will we keep right on trying to figure it out and make it on our own?
O God, so often we know the way we should go, we are just unwilling to actually go there. We are constantly looking and asking for an easier, more convenient way. Maybe that’s why at times we stand at the crossroads for longer than we should—simple unwillingness. Give us the strength and the courage, O God, to follow you wherever you may lead. Amen.