By Brock Bondurant
Jeremiah 6:16 – Thus says Yahweh: “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls. …”.
Around the end of 2020, a friend of mine wrote a post on taking a slightly different approach to the New Year with a Scripture focus to guide her throughout the year instead of the usual setting of goals and resolutions. This really resonated with me. After reading her post, I set out to find that which would enliven me to personal renewal in 2021. So, when I read the sweet words of Matthew 11:28-30 on the eve of 2021, I found what would be my focus.
Come to me, Jesus said (Matt 11:28). I was extended an invitation to rest, to the renewal that my soul had been longing for. The question still echoes: What if I started from a place of rest? Thus my year began.
My mind and heart have long been captured by the essence of practicing the way of Jesus. In a culture of busy and hurry, practices or habits of Jesus provide rest and renewal through the ways of old instead of the anxiety that we’ve become accustomed to. The spiritual disciplines of the early Church seemed to provide that which my soul was thirsting for – rest and nearness to God – as I began to participate in habits that stir my affections for Jesus. Through the ancient practice of flipping your bible open to read whatever your finger lands on, I found this verse in Jeremiah:
Stand by the roads, and look,
and ask for the ancient paths,
where the good way is; and walk in it,
and find rest for your souls.
I set out on my personal study of the way of Jesus and invited my church small group along for the ride, adding a new practice every couple of months. We asked for the ancient paths, where the good way is and found our answer in Jesus. Now, we simply need to walk in it – to practice the way of Jesus – to find rest for [our] souls. Because to accept Jesus’ invitation to come to him, to take his easy yoke upon us means to change our ways. We cannot continue in the way of the world and expect to find the rest that we long for. We must look back, to Jesus himself and live lives renewed by following his life rhythm. We have to go back to these ancient paths to go forward.
Jesus – God in the form of man – walked these ancient paths. He came to not only grant us salvation, but to show us a new way to live. He came as a human to show us the way that we were intended to be human. To become like Jesus, bearing all the fruits of the spirit, we must commit our lives to this way. To be more loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, and so on, we must walk in His way. But what does that look like? Practices like prayer, Scripture study, time in silence & solitude, Sabbath, and worship with a community of believers. This is the new way – the easy yoke – that Jesus establishes and invites us into. These practices are, as Eugene Peterson describes them, unforced rhythms of grace (Matt 11-28-30 MSG).
I invite you to receive Jesus’ invitation to the new way. I invite you to stand, and look; to ask for the ancient paths – the ones where the good way is – and walk in it with me, with others – together. Looking to Jesus, let us go back to go forward.