I have just returned from my retreat for this year, again taken at the beautiful and tranquil Launde Abbey in Leicestershire.
I like to take a Bible verse or passage with me to chew over, reflect on and pray about, and this time I chose a verse from the prophet Jeremiah, which has been challenging and inspiring me: 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 shall find rest for your souls. (Jeremiah 6: 16)
We often realise that life is a journey but we’re not always so good at reading the maps or studying the road signs, or the signposts, along the way. I’ve always believed that God blesses the path we take, whether we turn to the left or the right, but we too easily forget that we do need to commit our ways and our journeying to God in the first place – then we might actually take the path God wants us to follow at the outset.
We often find ourselves at the crossroads – not just with the choice of going one way or the other, but faced with the choice of going north, south, east or west. Standing at the crossroads means we are faced with all the possible options and as we survey them all, it can be very confusing. These are very often the hardest moments in our lives, critical times of decision, times when our choice could determine our destiny. We find ourselves faced with an intersection of choices that can either lead us closer to God or further away from him.
Any one of a number of things can have led us to that place. We might simply be having a midlife crisis. Or we might be asking ourselves questions such as, “How do I know what God wants me to do?” or, “How can I know God’s will for me in this situation?” or “I wish I knew what direction I should go in. I just feel lost.”
At the time of Jeremiah, the Israelites refused to heed the call, and said stubbornly to the message to walk in the good way, “We will not walk in it!” They paid the price for that decision, but we hope that the same may not be said of us. God calls us to discover the true mission and purpose he has for our lives (individually, as a parish, as a diocese, as an institution) and he urges us to think of the wisdom of past faithful generations, to follow his “ancient paths” and to journey onwards in his strength.
When we reach the crossroads we must stand, stop, and look around; we must look and wait and listen; we must ask to be shown the true way; we must walk, and take action. Stop in your tracks…Look at the truth about your living…Desire the eternal ways of God…Move into a life journey in God’s mission…
As you stand at the various crossroads of your lives, my prayer is that that you will desire to pursue God’s mission for your life . . . no matter what that means, and no matter where it takes you.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. (Proverbs 3: 5-6)