Friday, April 26, 2013

The Ancient Paths

This is what the LORD says: "Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.

Jeremiah 6:16

I was 19 years old and the air was still and ebbed with the warm shadow of summer. I sat on the porch swing with my Mama . . . back and forth, back and forth in the cooling night breeze and the sky was alive with the last splendid hues of the sunset. All around, a fragrance beckoned--the scent of the perennials in the deep grainy soil, a promise of beauty, grace of a scattered seed. I breathed in the thick richness of it all.

It was the summer after I graduated from highschool, the summer after “the decision,” when all the world changed for me, and all that I valued as important faded more sharply beneath the vision of His love and the searing, beautiful pain of the sacrificial knife. 

Suddenly, the Robin song was all a-sky, painting ribbons over the smoky pink rays of the setting sun. Joy of the Robin-song in their nesting season, and I only 19 years old, considering the ancient paths and aching to walk in them, if I could only but find them. 

My Mama beside me; she had walked the ancient paths, learned of the good way, known the Great One in truth. Together, we rocked on the porch swing, flesh of flesh and blood of blood, and listening together to the robin’s joy-song in the coming of their offspring. 

And I her daughter, my Mother who had introduced me to Oswald Chambers’ writings, who always counseled my sisters and I to “count the cost,” and that it was worth it to follow Him, even when it did cost. She bore the love-scars and the stain of the tears of that counsel. 

The ancient paths . . . in a world that has grown so “advanced,” in a Church that has suddenly become “sophisticated,” simple faith in the promises of God replaced by statistics and frantic growth efforts. 

Whatever happened to humble, child-like faith in the promises of God? Whatever happened to fervent Spirit-saturated prayer and obedience to His authority in every aspect of our lives? As Vance Havner says, have we, have I become too “grown-up,” to “become as a little child?” 

I wonder, sometimes, if instead of spending our time and energy on new techniques and programs to “reach the lost,” we “spent” ourselves together in prayer, as the ancient saints did—and moved the Most Holy. E.M. Bounds says, “What the Church needs to-day is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more and novel methods, but men whom the Holy Ghost can use -- men of prayer, men mighty in prayer. The Holy Ghost does not flow through methods, but through men. He does not come on machinery, but on men. He does not anoint plans, but men, men of prayer.”

Where are the ancient paths? They are not difficult to find . . . they lie quietly in the worn pages of a cherished Bible, in the prayer meetings of persecuted suffering saints. They lie in the hospital beds of the lonely and afflicted who have learned the secret of being empty of self and filled with the Presence of God. 

They lie in the quietness of seeking God through patient, persevering prayer, in the relinquishment of lesser things to become more filled with glory, in the cup of cold water offered to a little child, in the triumph of self-laid-aside, of decreasing so that He may become more. 

They lie not in me, but in Him . . . and He is the One who leads the feet of those, who through His grace would take up their cross and step onto the worn, narrow, ancient paths... 

The frantic, rushing world all around . . . The Church, racing to keep up with the pace . . . Oftentimes it is in the simplicity of child-like faith that the God of Might moves, and where we least expect. The child-like heart, listening to the Great Father, accepting His strength and grace... 

What paths will I choose? And will I hear the simple Robin song of peace or the cacophony and confusion of this world and all its daily noises? 

It is a difficult way, but eternally its worth is precious . . . Oh Lord, enable me through Your grace to choose the ancient paths...

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