My husband broke his back in a bicycle accident…my teenage daughter was cutting…my utero baby wasn’t getting enough oxygen…my childhood friend committed suicide…and the list went on. I was in a place of darkness and disorientation. It wasn’t the first time, and it won’t be the last, but it certainly was one of the most intense.
Whenever I find myself in such places, I often repeat a Scripture dear to my heart; a passage that helps me find my way.
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 you souls.
Jeremiah reminds me that I can navigate my way through the painful places of life, and find rest for my weary soul, if I follow some simple steps that God offers: look – ask – walk.
I don’t know about you, but I can be impulsive, especially if I’m anxious. I can be tempted to rush into action, in order to escape the pain and confusion. I want to DO something…yet God purposely calls me to stand still and look. He knows that I will gain clues, and gain clarity, by waiting and looking. God already has gone before me, he already knows what’s going to happen, and he already has prepared the way, so standing and looking – stopping to take note and pay attention –is a vital first step.
I don’t need to search for peace and calm from the newspaper, social media, or the culture. I need to seek God. I can ask him to shine his light into my darkness; to expose things that have lain dormant during more stable seasons of my life; to bring them into his light and heal them. I can ask him to reveal the truth, and provide the peace I need to face my circumstances and even to face myself.
I ask the Lord as I pray, as I pray with others (even over the phone or online), or as I reflect on his words in Scripture. And as I ask, he reminds me that I can hold his hand as I walk my road; I will be safe and loved in the shelter of his wings.
As I look and ask, God shows me where the “ancient path” is, and then I can walk in it. This is my opportunity to live by faith; to act on what God tells me and shows me – every hour, every day.
To “walk in it” means to live it: in my thoughts, in my words, in my movements. For me, that means to keep my thoughts positive as I navigate the uphill climb of becoming tech-savvy enough to accomplish my work. To encourage my husband, rather than criticize him, as he helps lead our church family. To take breaks and walk outside, because physical movement and fresh air help my head and my heart to relax. To be intentional about cultivating my own relationship with God – Father, Son, Spirit. To be honest about confessing my sin, about repenting, and trusting that God will help me walk along new and more godly paths.
If I look, ask, and walk in God’s ways, then he promises I will find the rest my soul desperately seeks. This is true in the midst of all of life’s difficulties, and it is true now – even in the midst of our current pandemic.
So I cling to these words from the Lord, because they offer me a road to rest…whatever my circumstances. God always meets me – and he will meet you – when we stop and stand at the crossroads.