March 02, 2015

Walking the Ancient Paths

Jeremiah 6:16-17

“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

Always on the frontier of the future, we strain to peer through the veil to see what's coming—but, of course, we can't. Cell phones, laptops, tablets: even the best technology cannot help us see what will happen next. The path ahead is shrouded in the fog of the future.

God's people have always been prone to wander from the path he prescribes (see Exodus 20:1-17; Mark 12:30-31). Lent calls us back to "the ancient paths," to the good life of learning to love God and live together (Deuteronomy 6:1-9; Leviticus 19:18). God's "ancient paths" point the way to salvation.

God's way also leads to what the writer of Hebrews called: "a Sabbath-rest for the people of God" (see Hebrews 3:1-4:11). Lent calls us to give up life on our terms and to receive with gratitude what cannot be earned—God's grace, which is "rest for [our] souls."

Jesus says, "I am the way and the truth and the life" (John 14:6). God's way began in the Garden of Eden, before Adam and Eve went astray, and it leads all the way to heaven. Jesus died at Calvary and rose from his tomb to put us back on track. He's given us a way to stay there and, when we wander, to correct our course, with his help through the Holy Spirit. This is the life of a spiritually disciplined disciple.

Lord, show us the ancient paths, the way back to you, and how to follow your leading to eternal life, through Christ and by your Spirit. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

About the author — Norman F. Brown

Chaplain Norman F. Brown graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, in 1969. He served aboard destroyers during the Vietnam conflict and ashore in San Diego, Calif., as an instructor. By then God had made clear his call to work in pastoral ministry, and Norman entered Calvin Theological Seminary, graduating in 1980. Chaplain Brown pastored churches during his ministry career but spent most of his time as a navy chaplain. During one assignment he served three years at Holy Loch, Scotland, where he and his wife, Ruth, encountered the Iona Community and their emphasis on spiritual disciplines. Chaplain and Mrs. Brown have three married children and nine grandchildren.

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