Following Directions (part 2)

So there we were, following God’s direction. (Read my last post for the full scoop.) He was wiping off OUR desires and writing HIS desires on our hearts. (Psalm 37:4) With indelible letters.

The first day of our long journey to our new life, I discovered a verse that was new to me. Over the years, I have read, reread, and dissected that verse…

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

God's direction

{{ Ask }} 

I noticed there were lots of action verbs : stand, look, ask, ask, walk. But one is repeated twice. How important it is to ASK! He’ll direct our paths, one way or another, with us following wholeheartedly or with us kicking and screaming while being pushed. With us meekly asking and cautiously following, or with us going our own way, mapping a misinformed course, but being forced through painful detours, sideswipes, or head-on collisions, to the path He has marked out for us. (Proverbs 16:9)

We just have to ask.

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

{{ Ancient paths }}

At a new junction in our lives God often calls us to look back. It’s good to consider the tried and true ways of our ancestors who loved the Lord, if we’re blessed enough to have such a heritage. Sitting in my back yard that August morning with my Bible open across my tanned legs, my thoughts fell first on Bill’s paternal grandmother. She was the one who chartered our family’s path to New England long ago when she purchased her unassuming cottage nestled under tall pines.

Little did I know that the home God would lead us to, 5 years and 9 months later, would be one built 215 years before we ever laid eyes on it. One full of stories. One built when our country’s first president was still alive. One built only two short decades after our country was a country at all. Talk about some ancient paths!

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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

{{ Stand at the crossroads }}

We stood at confusing crossroads. We were blessed and content where we were, but God was pointing us down an unknown path.  Parents and other relatives didn’t understand why we were even considering such a path–one that would mean leaving family, friends, a perfect home, and our native state behind. But as Christians, we have a guidebook. We have a direct line to the best direction-giver ever. He’s on-call 24-7, and he’s already mapped out our days. We need to seek His directions through the simple acts of studying His Word and talking to Him in prayer. That’s how we call on Him when we’re at confusing crossroads. Then He gives us direction. (Proverbs 3:5-6) Sometimes our friends and family are His mouthpiece. But sometimes their words, as well-meaning as they may be, contradict what we’re studying in the Bible or are antithesis to the joy and peace we feel when we’re prayerfully working through our choices. At those times, we need to simply listen to His direction.

But there were other crossroads in our story. Crossroads I didn’t even know about until we had lived in our new home for many months. But  God knew our home would be our home back on that summer day almost a decade ago, when I first read the verse about standing at a crossroads. Long before I knew it, He knew that our home sits on old crossroads. An elongated “Y” where one road, the one that bends around the lake, turns to the right while another road forges ahead–an old, ill-used service road that has since been merged with our property. When I found the “Y” on an antiquated map, I couldn’t believe the name of the old road. It had been christened the very same name as that of my mother’s father. So our new God-appointed home sits on crossroads in a state where my husband’s paternal grandmother had first drawn our family and where a service road bears the unusual name of my maternal grandfather. It’s not a coincidence.

DSC_0740

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

{{ Walk in it }}

He will direct, but He expects us to do a lot of active work. He gives no promise it will be easy. I have cried many tears over the complications inherent to following God’s direction that led us to our New England homestead. It has been a difficult process. My oldest, now in her 2nd year of college, was only 12 when we thought we’d be moving in just a few months. My youngest, close to a teenager when we moved, was only 5 when God first called us to move hundreds of miles away.

In the years that spanned from that memorable vacation day until the day we settled on our New England homestead , He asked me to do many things I was completely unqualified to do. (2 Corinthians 4:7) He asked me to learn how to analyze a businesses gross value, write a business plan, talk with financial and real estate professionals I felt so inadequate talking to, and sell a house for sale by owner when I had no real estate knowledge and a husband who was living 400 miles away. He asked me to try to explain to a 5 year old what it means to know God is directing you to do something and why one should follow those directions even when it seems to be illogical by the world’s standards. And He asked me to keep explaining this to this same daughter as she grew into a pre-teen who remembered no time in her life that her Mom wasn’t explaining this to her, yet also saw God closing door after door after door and her parents still not moving so many years later. It was tough. Almost as tough as that sentence was long.

He also asked me to be uncomfortable and share with others during those 5 years and 9 months, when He laid it on my heart to do so. I told friends, and sometimes strangers, that we were certain God was directing us to do something, even though every door was being closed and nothing made sense. It was humbling (embarrassing, if I’m honest) to share my story, not knowing if indeed we would ever truly move or I would instead look like a fool going nowhere very slowly.

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

{{ You.Will.Find.Rest. }}

Rest is an absolute. It’s a given.

He may never show me why He asked me to do so many uncomfortable, extremely difficult things and why it had to take so long, but He gave us absolute assurance that our home here in New England is the exact spot where He wants our family. (That’s a whole other story, with lots of amazing details.) And He had two people independently approach me as we were packing to move and tell me what my testimony meant to them personally many years prior, how my testimony impacted their lives, my story of following God’s directions in the midst of no idea where, why, and how God was calling us.Know God's Will

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

{{For your soul}} 

God doesn’t promise us a caribbean-vacation-kind of rest. But, honestly, His rest is better. He promises rest for your soul. A rest that surpasses understanding. (Isaiah 40:31A rest that you can sink your heels down deep into. One you can lean on with any and all energy that you have. Your soul can experience a true, fulfilling, deep rest when you know, beyond any doubt, that you are where God has led you.

The first summer on our New England homestead, I named our homestead “Restful Falls Farm.” Our homestead sits not only at a crossroads that bears the name of my grandfather, but also where the lake spills over the dam and into the rocky river.  I want to always remember that I will find true rest only in following God’s direction. I then started writing about our new life here on this blog. I named it “SoulyRested” to remind me that the rest He promises is a rest for my soul.

And I started turning over gardens with my daughter, the one who was so eager to see our homestead producing. As I dug up bucketful after bucketful of rocks, I made a pile of the pretty ones.

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And I put them together as a Stones of Remembrance.

God's Direction

Joshua instructed the Israelites to construct a pile of stones when they crossed the Jordan River and entered the Promise Land that God had promised to Abraham so very many years before. Joshua instructed the Israelites to construct Stones of Remembrance because His people need to remember that God promises to lead them and that God keeps His promises. So I too have my own Stones of Remembrance.

First, I have my journaling of the entire, often painful, process. Every page recalls a specific detail of God’s direction. Years’ worth of beautiful small stories that add up to an opus of God’s direction.

Second, I have a quite literal Stones of Remembrance that hangs by our front door.

Following God's Direction

In our move, I brought with me a part of an old orchard box that was stamped with the name of my native hometown—Newark, Delaware. It seemed the perfect board to use. To it I glued my pile of stones I gathered in those first few months on our new homestead, and I paraphrased Jeremiah 6:16 on the rocks.

It’s a reminder to us that we are exactly where our God has led us, and our God always shows us the good way, and He always gives us rest for our souls.

“Take up each of you a stone… that this may be a sign among you. When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ then you shall tell them… So these stones shall be… a memorial forever.” Joshua 4: 5-7

————

Stones of Remembrance

To make my Stones of Remembrance, I tried to choose rocks that weren’t too big (aka heavy) and had relatively flat backs. Then I adhered them to the wood using E6000. I wrote on the rocks with a Sharpie extra-fine paint pen.

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