Jeremiah 31:21-22 “Set up road signs; put up guideposts. Take note of the highway, the road that you take. Return Virgin Israel, return to your towns. How long will you wander, ….”
Let’s start here. The book of Jeremiah is not an easy one to get through, so many verses written warning the people to repent. Not much positive is to be found here, though there are glimpses of the glory that will come. I sort of insisted to myself that I get through the entire book. I have tried before and the fact that it has never held my interest bothers me. I felt there was something for me in this book of the Bible and so I have been reading in it for the past week or so. Trying to find the right words. While I haven’t quite finished up yet, I think chapter 31 was where I needed to get to, verses 21 and 22 are just a tiny piece of my heart, when I read these words the mental imagery is nearly a physical place to become lost in.
I’ll not get stuck in the scripture for too long here, I’ve spent hours contemplating these four sentences and you definitely do not need to get lost there with me, but follow with me for just a few minutes this morning. I hope that you may find something you need in these words. First; the verses line by line;
Set up roadsigns: Mark your path girl, you’ll need to come back this way one day. Even though you find it easy to walk away today there will come a time when you’ll long to find your way back to someone or someplace; leave a trail.
Put up guideposts: What markers are you leaving? Will they only show you where you were or will they show you a way back there? Will they take you back to the person you were then or will they return you to people who you left behind, but better than you were then? Guideposts, it’s in the word for Heaven’s sake. Don’t just leave a trail, be guided to what you needed when you turned off the main road to begin with.
Take note of the highway, the road that you take: Be conscious of the road when you choose it. You won’t know what’s ahead, but you don’t have to stumble along in the dark. Be aware of where your choice may lead you. Also, where do you want this road to take you? Do you believe that this road will get you where you want it to?
Return…Return to your towns: This is truth; you’ll want to go back at some point. There is nowhere that I have come from that I didn’t wish to have some piece of back. No matter how far I’ve strayed from that path or how badly I’ve fractured a relationship, there was always some good in it, and I do long for the good parts.
How long will you wander: Oh Lord! How long indeed! This is the part that brings me to tears. To wander: to ramble without a definite purpose…to roam, to stray. I feel this word in my heart. I am this word, while my day-to-day has great purpose and I see it in the raising of these kids. Giving them God, and lessons, and determination. That is me as a momma, not me as a woman, as a child of God, it is only a tiny fraction of who I am. Inside of me is a wanderer. And so, I sat awhile this morning. The Christmas tree was lit up and I held my cup of coffee with both hands. Just being here, being still and silent. I deliberately focused on the steam curling out of my mug. Whispered reassurances that all of the tasks would wait for me and that even if the baby is up early, there are always minutes in the day to find peace, to traipse off into.
The desire to wander, to wonder at creation is strong in me. I know I’ve written about it before, but this is such a part of me that I can’t tell a story without it coming out. How long will I wander? I’ll likely never stop! I fear with great anticipation the curves in the road ahead and how my choosing a left or a right will affect this desire to roam. Where will the road I’m on now take me? When will the next turn come and how will I take it? I do realize, of course, that this is not at all what Jeremiah wanted the people to get from his words. “Come back to God!” was his message. It’s odd to me how much more of God I have found since I began meandering off the path that I thought was the right one for me to follow. For me at least, it turns out that God was calling my spirit away from the concrete sidewalks, off of that ever elusive trail to “normality”, and in following His leading I have truly found that the road less traveled is the right road.
As is always the case with my writing, I have had to step away from this post for a few days. Coming back to it with sleepy eyes, hoping to get back to my routine this morning, I have new thoughts on wandering and wild-nature bubbling inside of me. Thoughts that may help me tie together the parts of me that cry out to be allowed to run off into the wildness and the parts of me that hold fiercely to my family and my home. I’m wondering this morning if the two fractions of my nature could possibly join together without causing any crazy shifts? If I can make changes to myself that are big enough to matter, but small enough to not tear anything apart that I’ve given my heart to putting together…right now, in the stillness, I feel like I am very close to making this possible.
I trust that in the wandering is where the answers lie. In setting up the guideposts, in following the road signs, in taking note of the hi-ways, yes. But also in continuing on when the road is shadowed, when the trail becomes narrow, when the signs are unclear. My thoughts amble a bit; I am unsure of how I will pull all of this together into not only a coherent article that someone may enjoy, but more so into a life that I am happier to live. I don’t think that I can do it all justice here, there are so many more thoughts that go along with this post. Thoughts that are difficult to turn into articulate sentences. What I know to be a heart-truth for me is that I can not walk a road laid out for someone else. I must walk with my own purpose, in my own way, on my own trail.
Simply knowing there are two pieces of my nature does not make this easier, and so I will give grace to myself. Today I choose to get lost in the wilder part of my soul; in the joy that is my chaos, and to think less about how that chaos grates against the responsible side of me. I will take a walk with no intended destination, even if I only make it to the end of the block before someone starts whining. I’ve said before that the journey is the destination and I will embrace that attitude today. Hopefully tomorrow will be just as good, just as easy to fall into this rhythm. If it’s not, I’ll find the early quiet and begin again, knowing that the path does not disappear just because I stepped off of it. There is always a signpost leading me forward, if only I’ll take the time to seek it out.