Stay On The Path With God To Find True Peace, Rest
By Micah Smith, Tribune News Service – 5-19-18
For many years, I’ve enjoyed running and hiking many of the pristine trails in the Cascades, Coast Range and west slope of the Rockies. I know some of these trails intimately. I can tell you where buttercups, bachelor buttons, lupine, phlox, Indian paintbrush and delicate bluebells fill the trailside with splendid color.
I’ve learned through test and trial where you can hear the shrill cry of the peregrine falcon, curlew and the unmatched melody of the meadowlark. Running with patience, I can lead you to secluded places where the busy work of jays, nuthatches and woodpeckers will capture your senses and bring delight. And hard experience has taught me where to be alert for rattlesnakes, poison oak and even mountain lions.
Experience (with its old scars) has taught me where unseen rocks and roots might mark the trail ahead, threatening a fall and injuries. And then there are times when I know my way so well I can simply cruise … breathing in the fragrance, sometimes closing my eyes, wishing I could bottle the moment.
Old trails are like old friends; we get to know them over time, gaining trust and confidence.
New trails offer excitement and adventure — but keep your eyes open! New trails can hurt you. And if you drop your guard or throw caution to the wind, a new trail can injure or even kill you.
In the prophet Jeremiah’s day, the nation of Judah had abandoned all the “old trails” of the Lord. Jerusalem teetered on the verge of complete collapse, pressured and bullied by the brute force of Babylon, the world power of that day. A pervading sense of cynicism blanketed the land.
When the prophet called the people back to the old paths of the Lord, they responded with bitterness and scorn. Even though the old trail offered a safe place of emotional health and spiritual life, they refused (Jeremiah 6:16). In other words, “Nothing doing! We’re not going that direction!”
They had developed a taste for new unproven trails, new exotic gods and new moral “freedoms.” And even though these new paths had led them to the precipice of destruction, they loudly rejected God’s pleas and warnings saying, “Your message and your messenger are offensive to us.”
Yes, God’s trails are old — old as the foundations of Earth, old as your father’s-father’s-father, back to the first dawn. But it is only on this path, this age-old trail, that you will discover real rest for your souls.
Jesus must have had this in mind when he said, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest.
“Walk with me and work with me — watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11:28-30, MSG).
Said another way, don’t trade in the old trail for a new trial.
The Rev. Micah Smith is president and founder of Global Gateway Network (www.globalgatewaynetwork.org), author of “Heaven’s Heartbeat” and a Spiritual Life contributor to the Tri-City Herald in Washington.