The Old Paths, The Good Way
When we are in a state of great distress and perplexity, it is difficult to determine what action to take when there are many different paths to choose from. Thousands of years ago, the kingdom of Judah was in such a state, finding itself at a crossroad, facing peril and destruction which could only be averted by wise and prompt action.
Out of the clamor of counseling voices came the word of the Prophet Jeremiah: “Thus says the Lord: Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; then you will find rest for your souls.”1
Let us consider the Prophet’s instruction:
First, stand in the ways and see. This means deliberation. When at a dilemma, it is not the time to rush into action which may result in choosing the wrong path. A crisis, a turning point is the time for prudence and forethought.
Second, ask for the old paths, what is the good way. This means guidance. Let history serve as a guide: the nation of Judah had won victory and experienced peace and prosperity in former times; therefore, inquire of the past how these blessings were attained. Search for the trodden road that led to safety and happiness.
Third, walk therein. This means action. After deliberation and having discerned the guiding light, proceed ahead upon the chosen path. In doing so, Jeremiah told the people of Judah, you will find rest for your souls.
Almost five centuries later, Jesus Christ addressed, not a nation, but individual men and women: the weary and heavy-laden, and once again he mentioned the concept of soul-rest in the same manner as the Prophet Jeremiah :
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”2
Christ’s prescription for finding rest for one’s soul is to come to Him, to choose the path that leads to Him, proclaiming that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. A new and a living way, but yet the most ancient of pathways— a pathway that leads to the Rock of Ages.
1 Jeremiah 6:11, King James Version
2 Matthew 11:28-29, New King James Version
*** Reference: Henry Van Dyke, 1903, “Joy and Power”, http://www.gutenberg.net/1/0/3/9/10395, pp.72-92
*** Photography by Rovakovski