ANCIENT PATHS

VOLETERRA ITALY

“Cobblestones.” The word dropped into my spirit as I sat at the easel, developing what would be a prototype for a commissioned piece. Thus began the journey that brings me to this morning when the Lord said, “Write what I have shown you.” 

The word “cobblestone” brought up memories of the ancient city of Volterra, Italy that we had visited in 2018. Volterra dates back to the 8th century BC. There you can visit an ancient arch built around 200 AD. To get there, you trek through narrow, winding and steep cobblestone streets from the open city square. I mused over the word “cobblestone” while looking at my photos from Volterra, asking the Lord what He was trying to tell me. I became aware of a few characteristics of those cobblestone streets I recalled. 

Cobblestones fit perfectly together and they stand the test of time. They are also a part of a larger whole. They make up the streets and paths all across Italy. We encountered them in cities like Voltera, Florence, Pisa, and Venice. A tourist finds the treasures of Italy as they follow the paths made by cobblestones.

In hindsight, it does not surprise me when I heard “Study the ancient paths” a few days later. At the time I wasn’t sure what the Lord was asking me to do. He confirmed His direction when I read  a book where the author described the book  as reflecting an ancient path. The fact that it is a book meant to help others find their purpose and calling—a mission that parallels my call and ministry—seemed a clarion call from the Lord. 

“Where do I begin, Lord?” “How do I study such a broad subject?” Those were just two of the questions I had as I pulled up my Bible application on my iPad and entered “ancient paths” into the search section. I was surprised—shocked would be the more appropriate word—when there was exactly one verse that popped up. 

Jeremiah 6:16 

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 But you said, “We will not walk in it.”

I often describe life as a journey of following the path the Lord sets before us. The path of life following the Lord is a God-sized adventure. It is filled with twists and turns, and reveals many crossroads as we walk our God-given path. Hurdles, detours, and crossroads are inevitable. How we handle those moments of crossroad decisions makes the big difference in our lives. 

Jeremiah tells us to ask for ancient paths or the good way. What are the ancient paths? How do we find them? How do we apply Jeremiah’s advice to our lives today? 

The term “ancient path” can also be translated “paths of old”. Think eternal. Although in our modern world, ancient could be synonymous with antiquated or obsolete, for Jesus Followers, the eternal, ancient paths are never obsolete. They can be considered the spiritual truths to live by. Follow the ancient path in your journey with the Lord and you will find the treasures of who He is, who He created you to be, and what He created you to do. Scripture is full of verses to live by.

One example is found in Psalm 119: 105. When we read or recite that verse,  we speak a spiritual truth that has stood the test of time. It gives us a clue of other cobblestones that make up the spiritual ancient path given to us by the Lord. Psalm 119:105 says this,

“Thy word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.

In other words, if you want to see the path before you, study  God’s word. The Bible is full of cobblestones that make up our ancient paths. These are the scriptures that you might call your life verses. They are the ones found taped to your mirror or posted on your refrigerator door with your favorite magnet. Jesus revealed the cobblestones of His ancient path when He said, 

“‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbors as yourself.’ On these two commandment depend the whole Law and the Prophets.’”             

Matthew 22:37-40

What are the cobblestones that make up your ancient path, your good way? Scriptures to live by are a great place to start. Practices like daily worship, prayer, and quiet time may be cobblestones in your path. Remembering what the Lord has done is a great Biblical practice. Perhaps starting your day with gratitude and thanksgiving builds your foundation of trust and faith. All are wonderful examples of cobblestones that make up the good way, the ancient path that will keep us walking with the Lord. 

A hint of where to look for your cobblestones is found in the next part of Jeremiah 6:16. Jeremiah tells us that there—on the ancient path—we will find rest for our souls. What brings peace to you? Where do you find your rest in the Lord? That’s where you might find your cobblestones. 

I invite you to make the time to sit with the Lord and ask Him to reveal the cobblestones of your ancient path. Maybe it is a scripture. Perhaps it is a daily, weekly, or monthly practice. Where do you find your rest? Where do you connect with the spiritual truth of the Gospel? Our ancient path and our individual cobblestones are as varied and unique as we are.

I am not ignoring the final line in our foundational scripture where Jeremiah writes, “But they said,’We will not walk in it.” Here’s the key. We— you and I—have a choice. We have a choice to make decisions that lead to rest and blessing or to make decisions that turn us away from the peace and hope that God offers. We choose whether to follow the ancient path, the good way, or to go our own way—path that often leads us away from the blessings of peace, hope, love, and truth. 

Praise be to God that He never leaves us! Even when we make the wrong choice, Jesus leaves the 99 sheep of the fold to find us (Luke 15:1-7). He redeemed us when we were yet sinners (Romans 5:8). He will search and find us. Like a loving shepherd, He will pick us up when we have wandered off. He will cradle us in His arms, close to His heart, and He places us back on His path. Jesus—our Shepherd, Redeemer, and Lord—is the strongest cobblestone we have in our ancient paths. He is perfectly fit for our lives. He has stood the test of time. In fact, Jesus is the “Good Way” . He is the “Spiritual Truth” upon whic we depend. He is the only “ancient path” to a life of light, life, and blessing.  (John 14:6)

Hallelujah! 

What are the cobblestones that make up your ancient path? Comment and share below. I’d love to hear what scriptures, practices, etc. make up your spiritual truth.