Jeremiah 6:16a – thus says the Lord: Stand by the roads and look; and ask for the eternal paths, where the good, old way is, then walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.
As my retirement date draws closer and I consider how I will best spend my time for the next 20 or 30 years, I am thankful that the Lord already knows and has a plan for me. Retirement is not the end of the journey; it is a new beginning. As graduation is not an end but a commencement, retirement is not an end but a new opportunity. Unfortunately, the dictionary definition doesn’t reflect that. It defines retirement as withdrawal or pulling away. But when we withdraw from something, we are going toward something else. Hopefully, it will not be seclusion.
For Christians, retirement should be a time when we can finally and fully devote our time to our number one boss—God. When we no longer have the demands of a full time job, we have more flexibility to go wherever and whenever God calls us. But there are so many paths. How do we know which one to choose? Jeremiah 6:16 provides some direction. And this direction applies to all stages of life.
The Lord says, STAND by the roads. Notice it says roads not road. We are standing by roads that indicate choices or paths. And we are to STAND. Not move. We should not move forward without consulting God. Since there is more than one road, we must wait until He directs so we know which one to take.
The Lord says, Stand by the road and LOOK. Look at the roads or choices that are available. Look them over carefully. Consider where each road might lead. Perhaps consider what is known about each path. Consider our own talents and how they might be put to use on each path, BUT we can’t rely on our own thoughts because the verse says look AND ASK.
ASK for the eternal paths. Notice the plural again. There is more than one path. Why? What does that mean? It means we will have to stand, look, and ask at each crossroad; it means some paths, though different, may get us to the same place. God does allow choices for His children’s lives, but we need to ASK for guidance to choose the eternal paths because some paths may be deceiving. They may look like they lead to eternity, but they don’t. We need to choose eternal paths by the good, old way.
The GOOD, OLD WAY represents the way of those in the past who followed God faithfully. That is why studying God’s Word is so important. We can learn from those who have made choices and see where those choices led them. The good, old way may also represent our own pasts. We look back and see our own choices and reflect on God’s faithfulness in our lives. The good, old path represents the righteous path, not necessarily the easy path. The old way may represent tradition. This is not to say that new things are necessarily or always bad, but old ways have been tried, and history shows their effectiveness. Finally, we must make a choice. This is implied because the next part says, and THEN.
And THEN, WALK—ask and then walk. The implication is God has provided the direction we need and now it is up to us to move. The time for standing still and looking and considering has come to an end. Now move and WALK. Don’t stop or hesitate. Proceed down the path. But WALK, don’t run. There’s no hurry. Just WALK.
When we run down a path, we are concentrating on the end result and may miss the beauty along the path. The destination is not the only good thing. There is beauty in the journey. And there are probably some really cool things along the path—perhaps surprises or lessons or people or opportunities. If we run, we might miss them. When we walk, we are moving steadily forward, but we still have time to notice and enjoy our surroundings. We have time to appreciate and savor the journey. We will not pass this way again. At the end of the journey, not only will we have arrived at the appropriate destination, but we will have more memories and more lessons to look back on as “old” ways because we took time to observe. And we will also find something.
AND YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS – The “then” is implied in this clause. Now that we’ve made our decision and chosen our path based on God’s direction, we move forward or walk. That is the result of our standing, looking, and asking. Since we are to walk, our decision has finality. It’s not maybe or possibly. It’s decisive. Once the decision is made to move forward, don’t look back. We shouldn’t second-guess ourselves or cast glances over our shoulders at the paths we didn’t choose. They are not for us—at least, not at this time. If one of those other paths is something God has planned for us, then the path we have chosen will wind around and connect with that other path at a different point in our journey. Because we have chosen God’s path, the right path, and God is our Guide, our souls are at peace knowing we are following the eternal path God designed just for us. And we will find REST—rest for our souls.
Our souls can rest because God’s yoke is easy. Our souls can rest because His burden is light. Our souls can rest because He gives peace. When we are walking with God, peace is a by-product.
So rest in Him, and just keep walking.
Until next time,