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Moving Forward Through Looking Back

“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 appointed watchmen over you and said, ‘Listen to the sound of the trumpet!’ But you said, ‘We will not listen.’”  Jeremiah 6: 16-17.

There are times in life when we come to a crossroads. It could be related to a new job, a relationship crisis, God calling us to go deeper with Him… but over the last months, God has been highlighting this verse, regarding the pain of our divided history. Let’s look back to the ancient paths of Christianity here in Ireland. Back before the identities of Catholic or Protestant even existed. Back before the first English King came with Papal authority to bring Ireland under his political control and the aberrant Celtic Church under the centralising control of Rome.

In the Hebrew, “the ancient paths, ” draws us back to “the paths their godly forefathers walk in.” While we might romanticise it, these were days of community, of monastic settlements, places of learning, seasons of worship and prayer and mission to Britain and further afield  to Italy.

Sadly, Jeremiah recorded a few chapters on, “Yet my people have forgotten me; they burn incense to worthless idols, which made them stumble in their ways, in the ancient paths. They made them walk in byways, on roads not built up.” (Jer.18:15). Since then, Christendom came with the spirit of Empire and we set up our cultural idols in the land, idols of nationalism which have so divided us, causing us to set up our altars to the fallen dead!

And sadly, down through the centuries we have said, “We will not walk in it… We will not listen.”  Instead, we have chosen to walk on roads of our own making.

Yet we read that there is a God-given rest for our souls – personal, for the family and Ireland. It’s God’s way, a good way! Yet to step unto it requires ownership of the past, repentance, reconciliation, restitution. I believe God has established watchmen and women in the land. The trumpet is being sounded! God is calling us back! This is the way – walk in it!

Father, as we have entered into a new year, we want to walk it with You. Standing at the crossroads, we say, “Lord, show us the good way! Illuminate our hearts, our minds and spirits so that we can respond to Your watchmen and women, the clarion call of Your trumpet. The call to be Your healers, Your reconcilers in the land. Amen.

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