Jeremiah 6:16a has become my life verse: “Thus says the Lord: Stand at the crossroads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way lies; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls’” (NRSV). Notice that I leave out the last part where the people reply, “We will not walk in it.” After all, if you are going to have a life verse you really ought to live by it!
This verse reminds me that when I reach a point where a decision must be made or when life is about to transition from one phase to another, I need to pause. I need to take time to ask God where the good way lies. Only then will I be best prepared for the next stage of the journey.
This is the first entry in a column that will explore the means of grace and how they help us find the good way on our journeys. Means of grace are spiritual practices that open our hearts, minds, ears, and eyes to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. They till the soil of our hearts, shine light in the corners of our minds, unplug our ears, and give clearer sight to our eyes. Means of grace are the tools by which we open ourselves to what God is trying to teach us and to where God is wanting to lead us.
Means of grace include both works of piety and works of mercy. They involve both individual and communal practices. Works of piety keep us focused on Christ, whom we are called to follow. Works of mercy keep us connected to other pilgrims traveling through life with us. Individual practices center us during those oh-so-important times of solitude when we are alone with God. Communal practices draw us back out into the world where the work of God continues to unfold.
So, as we begin, I invite you to spend some time with Jeremiah 6:16a. Are you needing to make a decision about something now? Is your life transitioning in some way? Considering everything we as a church, a nation, and a world have gone through in the past year, how might this verse reorient you to a rediscovery of God’s grace? How might God be leading you on the ancient path that leads to life at a time when death seems to have such a stronghold on us all? On the path that leads to wholeness at a time when everything feels so fragmented?
Take time this week to pause and to ask where the good way lies. Over the weeks ahead, be ready to hear and respond to God’s answer. I have no doubt that it will be full of grace.