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Ask for the ancient paths


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 16:6)

Like many of us, I enjoy a good walk in the countryside. Louise and I headed out for a walk recently in a new area we hadn’t explored before. As usual, we consulted the map beforehand and looked out for signposts to indicate the footpaths we could take.

All of which was fine until we reached one point that confused us. The map suggested that it was a footpath but a sign told us this was private property. We weren’t sure whether we could continue or if we would be trespassing on a farmer’s land. We dithered for a bit until we came across the farmer himself who told us it was perfectly fine to go on. He told us the right way to go and the right turning which would take us back to where we were headed.

Through the prophet Jeremiah God’s people are instructed to pay attention at the crossroad and ask for the good way ahead. In particular they are to find out where the ancient paths are and walk in those. Ancient paths are tried and tested, walked by many others before us and to be trusted.

The end of October tends to get a lot of attention because of Halloween and all its associations. Yet we often forget what Halloween actually points forward to - it is ‘All Hallows Eve’, the day before All Hallows, or All Saints Day, on 1st November.

All Saints Day is a great time to remember those who have walked the ancient paths before us and blazed a trail ahead of us. Christians who have lived for Jesus and act as examples for us to follow. From those who lived many years ago, such as St Augustine of Hippo and Martin Luther (to name a couple of my favourites), to those who have lived more recently like Mother Teresa, Corrie Ten Boom and Brother Andrew.

We don’t walk the Christian life alone: we walk alongside our Christian brothers and sisters now, and alongside the Christian brothers and sisters who have gone before. We would be wise to see how they lived and ask them what the good way is and where the ancient paths are that we can tread too. 

Dan Wells, 02/11/2020