Hi friends, and welcome to Episode #14 – Part 3 of Something New
This is the third of a three-part series where I’ll be sharing my insights on moving into a new year, and creating mental and emotional space for something new, even in a place of brokenness. Today, we talk about how to create some mental space for whatever might be presenting itself as something new this year.
So, just curious, did you set a new year’s resolution on January 1st? How’s that going? Are you sticking to it? Maybe you’re more like me and you have some ideas about some things you’d like to start doing and things you’d like to stop doing, but you don’t put them down on paper. I’ve decided that the reason I don’t write them down is because anything written down is somehow an “official document” in my mind. Like a binding agreement with myself. And any chance I might not adhere to the restrictions on that paper means I’m a failure. And I avoid, at all costs, things I think I might fail at. Yes, I know, I put a lot of pressure on myself. I’m working on that – working on extending more grace to myself. I’ve also told you in a previous episode that I’ve been known to have task-oriented, purpose driven tendencies that make me more of a human doing than a human being. Working on that, too.
I’ve been reading a book called the Unhurried Life by Alan Fadling. I highly recommend this book! It challenges everything our Western culture celebrates about hustle and bustle. The premise is to live in a state of rest and peace, no matter what your goals are or even resolutions you might have set for the year. There’s always a tendency for hustle, when what we really need is grace for ourselves to find a pace of rest while we continue to do the things that are necessary in life, and while doing the things we love. Hey, I’m all about the hustle, getting things done, making it happen, but it can easily be overdone and get out of balance. It’s super important to find the pace of balance so that we can be mentally, emotionally, and spiritually present.
So, as we are just dipping our toes into 2021, and trying to figure out of 2021 is going to be our friend, I want to talk about how to create some mental space for whatever might be presenting itself as something new this year. And how we can process that rightly with the rest and peace the Lord is always calling us to…no matter what we’re doing.
In episode #5 I talked about how the Lord is asking us to live the faith-rest life; trusting and allowing Him to lead and guide us through life where He is in control of the pace and the direction….the flow of our life. Finding rest in Him is obviously important to Him. It’s an admonition in the New Testament and the Old.
So, in the Old Testament, Jeremiah is a prophet who was a mouth-piece for God. When God had a judgement against the people, He sent a prophet to tell them – usually it was a warning about what was about to happen to them if they didn’t get straight with God – to repent and turn to Him and His ways.
So, in the book of Jeremiah chapter 6, the prophet went on and on about Israel’s constant rebellion against God’s ways. Finally, God tells the rebellious people what they needed to do instead of hustling on in life, running ahead of, or maybe even away from, God. This verse may very well be the most brilliant guide for a comprehensive life evaluation for us today. Especially if we’re wanting to adopt something new in this New Year.
So, Jeremiah, the prophet says in chapter 6, verse 16:
“Thus says the LORD, ‘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.”
So, let’s dissect this verse and see how it can be a guide for our faith-rest determined lives:
1) The first command is “Stand by the roads.” This means to actually to stop and be purposeful in order to take assessment. It’s a call to stop moving so quickly. Slow down. Slow your pace and motion down enough that your mind has the wherewithal to consider another path – another ‘road’. The idea here is that we’re not supposed to just keep on going down the same ‘ole road because it’s familiar, or even safer. And interestingly the verse says stand by the “Roads” – plural, indicating that there are more than one ahead of you. There always are! Sometimes we don’t recognize there’s another option, another road to choose because we’re too busy to pay attention. But, sometimes, on the contrary, we know that we’ve come to a fork in the road, an impasse, a crossroads. In this verse, we are told to stop and look – to consider.
2) So then, we Look at the two roads. How are they different? How are they the same? “Look” or “see” means to inspect, to perceive, and consider. God gave you a sharp mind for analysis. He’s leading you to use your mind to discern the risks and rewards you’d face on either road. Use your intelligence! Maybe you could use a material and spiritual pro/con chart. Consider the outcome of that. And consider the best way. The “way” or the “road” could be a physical journey or destination, but could also be a manner of living, a habit, a course of lifestyle, moral character. God is asking us to slow down long enough to give time and space to a life evaluation. Then ask.
3) Ask God for His counsel. The scripture says, “ask where the good way is”. So, find out, based on your stopping and looking, what path is bringing you closer to the “good way.”
What road does He want you to take? Where is He leading you? This is your journey, not someone else’s, so your choice may be different. Where is the “good way”? It doesn’t mean the good way will be comfortable. That road may still be full of sharp rocks, steep inclines, and uneven ground. But it’s still “good” because it is benefiting of great welfare. It is a moral good that leads to the best of things – eternal things, that is. It is also good in the widest sense. It is a good way that brings happiness, favor, prosperity, and things most pleasant – all found in God. And when you’ve asked and He has answered, then…
4) Walk on that road. Move away from the other road - that manner of life or moral character if that’s what He’s told you to do - and on to the new road. Go. Do. You’ve heard Him. The word “hear” in Hebrew is Shema, which means to obey. Even if you’ve considered and discerned that the road you will choose will come with difficulties, if God has counseled you towards it, He will supply all your needs for it. Phil. 4: 19 promises that. And He will do it – in you and for you.
5) Find Rest for your soul. This is it! This is what God wants for each of us. To find that place where our soul feels at rest – no matter the circumstances. The soul can get weary. Especially if we’re not on the road we should be on. Because even if the road we’re on is a hard traveled one, if it’s the road we’re supposed to be on, we will still find rest and peace in the midst of it. We can find rest for our souls in the midst of unbearable circumstances. It makes no sense in human understanding (Phil. 4:7), but is a supernatural peace for our souls. This supernatural rest is evidence that we are right in the middle of His will – on the right road. There’s no striving here. No angst. It may be filled with things that are counter-cultural to the world’s definition of good, comfortable, prosperous, or most pleasant. But that’s because the world does not have a heavenly perspective – an eternal view of things. The road God counsels you towards leads you to your eternal glory and reward. That is your destination. What road will you choose? Will you ask Him and then follow His leading? Or will you say like the rebellious Jerusalem, “We will not walk in it”?
One last thing – and a little grammar nerdery – stay with me, I promise this is good!
I encourage you to look up this scripture that we’ve dissected today – Jeremiah 6:16 – and notice that it has a semicolon that is linking two independent clauses. It says, “Thus says the LORD, ‘Stand by the roads and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is – semicolon- and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.”
So it’s telling us there are two independent ideas: Stop – Look – Ask and Walk – Rest. The semicolon indicates that both ideas are given equal weight or importance. So in this scripture it is equally as important to walk and find the rest that God wants to give, as it is for us to stop, consider, and ask. This is significant to us because it really shows God’s heart. He cares very much about our obedience and our dependence on Him in all things pertaining to our lives. But not because He’s a controlling, dogmatic dictator, but because He cares about every detail of our lives, and really wants to help us so that we will be in the right place, doing the best thing so that we find rest for our souls. He cares very much about your rest.
Friends, God has good in mind for you and me. He wants to lead and guide you into that greater good – YOUR greater good. Every step of the way. As we move into 2021, let us say, “Yes, Lord, we will Stop – Look – Ask and Walk in your good way. Bring us rest for our souls.”