When You Need To Find Some Goodness In This Turbulent World
Stand at the crossroads and look,and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is, and walk in it and find rest for your souls. Jeremiah 6:16
The world is chaotic and overwhelming just now.
Each new day seems to bring fresh stories of despair: painful injustice, devastating tragedy, appalling corruption.
Gone are the days when we can stand at a distance, untouched by far off catastrophes that happen to other people in other places.
I am the teacher witnessing the effects of a chronically underfunded education system. I am the woman who can add #metoo to the stories of harassment. I am the person who feels continually angry at how the poor and marginalised are treated.
Jeremiah lived in this story too. The world as he knew it was crumbling and on its way to total collapse. No one would listen to his warnings. He watched in despair as the nation he loved was destroyed by greed and ‘unjust gain’ (Jer. 6:13). He was exhausted by it all, just as we are.
The way to rest, though, has stayed the same — ancient, trusted paths that will give us safe places to put our feet while we travel some treacherous terrain.
Finding these paths requires us to walk in wise ways, taking part in the disciplines that have faithfully served generations of believers before us: worship, the word, prayer, fasting, silence, community.
When we’re searching for good ways to walk in the dark, we need to look for the light, too. Sometimes that means starting with actual, physical illumination. We light candles, turn on lamps, look up at stars. As the winter evenings draw in, I crave this tangible reminder that a tiny amount of light can make a huge difference.
It also reminds me to look out for other points of light. It reminds me that through acts of kindness, mercy, or justice, I can be the light in some of those dark places. It reminds me that Jesus is the light of the world, and the darkness cannot overcome him.
In the midst of it all, God has stayed the same. If we’re looking for ways to flourish, or respond, or just survive in the middle of all the chaos, we will find that his are good footsteps to walk in.
God always acts according to his own character and we are wise to follow his lead. If we’re not exactly sure what to do, we can always start here: with love, grace, and patience. We can start where right we are, bringing mercy and justice to our own homes and communities.
Keeping in step with the Spirit might also mean that we need to slow down. We live at a frenetic pace most of the time, but goodness comes from a place of rest, in our souls as much as our bodies.
Sometimes we need to stop and breathe, making sure our heart beats out the same rhythm and our feet keep at the same pace as his.
Sometimes, unplugging and jumping off the frantic merry-go-round of life is the only way to get quiet enough to hear the still, small voice that whispers “this is the way, walk in it.”