They have cleared roadways which are not smooth for fools:
before they came to the Kingdom they suffered hardships.
- Oengus mac Oengobann, Feilire Oengusso, Irish, 9th century
Thus says the LORD:
“Stand in the ways and see,
And ask for the old paths, where the good way is,
And walk in it;
Then you will find rest for your souls.
But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’”
- Jeremiah 6.16
Some years ago, as I was returning home from a weekend conference, I stopped at a café for a cup of coffee to brace me for the drive.
I had to cross the mountains on US 250 to Elkins, WV, then on to Philippi, where we lived at the time. As I sat drinking my coffee, I noticed on the wall next to my booth a pictorial history of Route 250, focusing on the place it crosses the mountains into the valley where I was sitting at the time.
Documents showed Route 250 had first been pioneered by Native Americans, pursuing game trails. The path was enlarged by settlers in the 18th century and became a working highway in the 19th. The road was only paved in the 20th century and remains today a valuable east-west thoroughfare for travelers going between Elkins and Staunton, VA.
Valuable roadways become such only over time, as they prove their worth and reliability for many generations.
For us in the Christian community, the old paths are the saints’ roads, which they have pioneered for us to walk. They are highways of doctrine and practice, example and endeavor, witness and worship, achievement and artifact, and they remain for us proven and certain guides into the future.
Over the years those highways have been enlarged, improved, and re-paved, as it were; but they are never forgotten and must not be ignored in our journey of faith toward the far country. The doctrinal, practical, cultural, and ecclesiastical paths our forebears walked have proven to be reliable guides for full and abundant life in Christ. While fools may not find them smooth going, those roads mark the trajectory of faith and life that we must follow if we would prosper in our journey and be united with all the saints around the throne of our glorious Savior and King.
But today we are in danger of losing sight of those old saints’ roads.
Our contemporary Church is addicted to whatever is new and relevant, and it has no time for what is old and fixed – like the old paths of our Christian forebears. We are inclined to view the present moment, and whatever new things it holds out, as the only history that matters. But it is a mistake to leave those ancient paths behind, to turn our back on the charts and trails of those who have gone before us and to think we can blaze new trails through the forest of secularism and relativism without losing our way.
Look to the old paths, friends, and celebrate with Oengus the sacrifice, suffering, and great achievements of those who have gone before and carved the safe roads for our journey of faith. Let the teachings of great saints, the venerable hymns of former times, the works of literature and art inspired by faith in Christ, and the examples of self-denial, love for God and neighbors, and perseverance in faith of that great cloud of witnesses who have gone before, be for us reliable old paths, that we may walk in them, seeking our rest in Jesus.
1. Have any Christians from previous generations enriched your life in the Lord? Explain.
2. Why is it a good idea to search out the “old paths” in our journey with the Lord?
Psalm 78.6, 7, 8-16 (Foundation: How Firm a Foundation)
Lord, let all our children arise and declare
the truth of the Lord, every day, everywhere,
and set all their hopes in God’s wonderful Word,
and never forget all the works of the Lord.
Our fathers were stubborn; they would not obey.
When faced with their foes, they in fear turned away.
God’s work of redemption they wholly despised,
forgetting the pow’r He had shown to their eyes.
Thank You, Lord, for the saints who have gone before; show me how I may learn from them to…
Ancient Celtic paths
The period of the Celtic Revival (ca. 430-800 AD) is rich with proven paths to enhance your walk with and work for the Lord. To learn about a few of these, order your free copy of The Legacy of Patrick by clicking here.
Watch out for ill winds!
As we walk the old paths, many cross-winds of false teaching will try to blow us off course. Our ReVision series, “Winds of Doctrine,” can help you recognize and resist the many ill winds that are coming at us these days. You can download the whole series for free by clicking here.
We pray that, if Crosfigell ministers to you, you’ll consider sharing with us in the financial support of our ministry. If the Lord moves you to give, you can use the Contribute button at the website to give with a credit card or through PayPal, or you can send your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 360 Zephyr Road, Williston, VT 05495.
T. M. Moore
All Psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 Carey, p. 185.