The corn maze near our home is a field thick with corn stalks cut into a confusing combination of twisting, turning paths. Some of the paths have dead ends while others lead to round-a-bouts. There’s an entrance, and there’s an exit. In between, you’ll find a lot of lost people.
Most maze-goers laugh their way through the journey, but it’s not unusual to hear a few crying preschoolers somewhere in the mix. In fact, in one story that made national news a few seasons back, one couple in a Danvers, Mass, maze had to call 911 to ask for help in getting out!
If they’d only had a tower! Many of these human-sized puzzles have a tower somewhere in the field, and if you can get to the tower, you can climb up, get your bearings, and try again to find your way home.
It’s interesting to watch the maze-dwellers. Some are delighted to find the tower. They climb its steps, get their bearing, and immediately head down the right path. Others know the tower is there, but refuse to take its help. It is, after all, just a corn maze. Sooner or later, everyone finds the path home. If not, there’s always 911.
Perhaps we could picture the Judean Wilderness, the Negev Desert and the Sinai Peninsula as the Bible’s maze. In many places, the land actually looks like a maze, and the people who walked there often acted like they were lost. Some were lost! Moses and his people spent 40 years wandering in this wilderness, and often, they could see little more than the canyon walls around them.
Countless dry riverbeds — or wadis — crisscrossed through the land in a confusing collection of valleys and canyons. Some of the world’s largest box canyons and craters are in the Negev. Jagged mountain peaks fill the Sinai. Loose stones are everywhere. Some are the size of pebbles and pose little problem. Some are as big as boulders and require a complete change of course. And the Judean Wilderness? That particular area is so foreboding, even today no one lives there.
There is no laughter in the Bible’s maze. There are no illusions that the adventure will end with cool refreshment on a hot fall afternoon. It’s just all maze, all the time. It’s frustrating, frightening and foreboding. It’s hard to keep a directional bearing, and impossible to know what danger lies beyond the next bend.
Unless, of course, you could get some direction from someone who knows the way home.
There is no wooden tower in the wilderness, but there are voices of truth. There is direction, for those who will heed it. The wandering Hebrews? They had Moses. The generations that followed? There was always a leader, always a prophet, always someone who seemed to have a good sense of direction.
Jeremiah was one of those with the clear view. His people weren’t lost in the wilderness. They were just lost. They were living with the consequences of their own choices, and the choices of the generations that had come before them. So Jeremiah, brought them a message:
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. (Jeremiah 6:16)
There’s a lesson here for us, all the way from ancient Israel. When you come to the crossroads, stop. Look around. Make a careful choice. And above all else, ask for help.
“Ask for the ancients paths … Ask where the good way is …”
Implication? God will show you the right way. He’s the tower. He’ll show you the right way.
Walk in the right place, and you will find “rest for your souls.” Jesus picked up that very phrase – a direct quote from Jeremiah – when he invited people to follow him. Take my yoke … and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:29)
“I know the way,” Jesus seemed to be saying. “I am the way,” he would later explain, just a few hours before his crucifixion.
Some of his steps took them through some very harsh land. All who have followed him have also found the way to sometimes be difficult.
But if you’ve got good direction, you’ll eventually find your way home. And this is the key. You’ve got to have help in getting through this maze called life. You’ll never find better help than you’ll find from the Maze Maker.
Ask him today, and in time, you’ll find rest for your soul.