by Marilyn Turk @MarilynTurk
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 NIV
One day I went out for a walk. I usually stayed on the sidewalk in our neighborhood, but when I noticed a wide trail leading into the woods, I was intrigued. I had never noticed this trail before, and I didn’t even know existed. But I knew I had to follow it. Although it was obvious that I was not the first to travel the path, what lay ahead was unknown to me. Where did it lead? How far did it go? How long would it take me to discover what lay ahead?
Step by step, I followed the trail, fascinated by the unveiling scenery around me, a natural barrier between two streets. Through the trees and undergrowth, I could see the backyards of houses or their back fences. Sometimes the path was wide and clear, and I could see farther ahead. Other times, the undergrowth closed in around me, and I could only see part of the path. yet I pressed on.
I questioned myself – why did I go off the main sidewalk? Had I committed to a journey I wasn’t prepared for? Yet, I wanted to find out where it led, trusting the invisible hand that beckoned me. As I traveled, unexpected surprises met me along the way—a fallen tree I had to climb over and lovely wildflowers in yellow and lavender bringing color to the greenery around them. I stopped to take a few pictures with my phone, then continued on, pulled forward like metal to a magnet.
Occasionally, a jogger or a biker passed me on the path. I didn’t mind though, because I knew my pace was my own, and I needn’t hurry to catch up. This was my path, my time, and my chance to enjoy the journey.
When the path appeared dark and mysterious, fear threatened my progress. Yet I continued, expecting to see light just beyond the obscure places. And I was not disappointed, because the path finally opened up for me, and I found myself at the end, glad to have experienced the journey.
The destination was important, but the discoveries made along the way were equally so.
Life is much like my walk down the trail. Like the verse above, when we ask God to lead us, He often takes us down trails we hadn’t expected. We can be afraid and balk at the challenge, or we can accept the new opportunity as part of God’s plan. Sometimes we meet roadblocks or detours and think we’re on the wrong path. But God has reasons for these as well, and He calls them all “good.” He wants us to learn, to grow, and to trust Him, as we travel. But how can we do that unless we keep moving forward?
Jeremiah was called by God to bring His word to the people. His people were steeped in sin and judgment was imminent. They were looking in the wrong places for peace and security. God was calling them to choose a different path. They were being given a choice and were standing at the crossroads.
Would they trust Him?
They would not. God informed him: “You shall speak all these words to them, but they will not listen to you; and you shall call to them, but they will not answer you” (Jeremiah 7:27, NASB). Their bad choice resulted in missing out on wonderful blessings they would have been given had they taken the other way. As they traveled with Him, He would have revealed Himself in new ways and their love for Him would have grown. It was the way of rest and life and security. Their lack of trust in God’s plan for them cost them dearly.
Perhaps we have our own idea of what we plan or want to do. Maybe we’re confused about which way to go. But God knows the plans He has for us, and once we trust Him with our future, He will give us peace, “rest for our souls,” that comes from the confidence that we are following His leading.
About the author: Marilyn Turk’s roots are in the coastal South. She loves God, discovering stories hidden in history, and lighthouses. Her novels show how faith works in the lives of her characters and include two World War II novels, The Gilded Curse (placed second in the Golden Scrolls Awards) and Shadowed by a Spy, and the Coastal Lights Legacy series set in 1800s Florida, Rebel Light, Revealing Light, Redeeming Light, and Rekindled Light. Marilyn is also a contributor to the Daily Guideposts Devotions book.
Join the conversation: Has God ever taken you on a journey on an unexpected path?