A N C I E N T
P A T H S
"I walked into the picture about the middle of the Twentieth Century when I wrapped a skinny, child's hand around a Hercules hand gripper ... I was seven and and in the sports department of Macy's ...
By the time I was ten I had acquired the three-spring chest expander, the five-spring super expander and a wall-mounted bungee-pulley contraption that hung conspicuously on the kitchen wall ...
Vividly I remember one day staring down at a small, immovable pile of metal neatly fixed to a sixteen-inch steel bar. On the barren concrete sidewalk in front of my house in Secaucus, N.J., lay my first set of weights ... I was just a kid and virtually nobody was pushing iron. There were no courses or instructions or peer supervision ... I invented and improvised and wrestled and played - hard ... within a month I was fully hooked... ("Brother Iron Sister Steel", Dave Draper)
"Words must surely be the most powerful drug the human species ever invented. In my adolescence I became an absolute nut about epigrams. I collected them the way some boys collect stamps. For years, obsessed with a fear of forgetting anything, I wrote down every bon mot I read or heard.
Year after year my bubbling booty grew. I invested in a ream of three-by-five cards and began to file my golden horde in shoeboxes wheedled from friendly merchants. My private treasure of quotations became an unexpected introduction into new kingdoms of reason, psychology, philosophy, and ethics." ("Carnival of Wit", Leo Rosten)
Here are two men, from totally different worlds, yet there is something so powerfully similar in their testimonies. Leo Rosten, a brilliant word crafter and humorist, author of over 30 books, passed away in 1997 at the age of 89. Dave Draper, age 64, former Mr. America, Mr. World and Mr. Universe, currently produces a very inspirational web site dedicated to weight training, health and fitness. (Dave also happens to be a very gifted writer.)
What do we see here? What unites these two seemingly diverse auto-biographical accounts? In both testimonies we see how both of these young boys were gripped by that which became their lifelong passion and profession.
In Psalms 139:13-16, David speaks of us being fearfully and wonderfully made, woven together in the womb of our mother. Our inward parts (our kishkes - personality and emotions), not just our physical components, but our soul (personality and emotional) and spirit were fashioned by God. We were not produced on an assembly line, but were hand-crafted. The goal was that His glory might be manifested in the uniqueness of each one of us. It's not that we are given gifts at that point, but who we are is the gift. David then says, "And my soul knows it quite well." There is an inner familiarity with the God-ordained pattern of our lives that is often obscured by outer factors. However, children may be more sensitive to it before they are redirected by parental, social, financial, and other pressures.
Mrs. Goldberg meets Mrs. Feldman on the street pushing her two grandchildren in a double stroller. Mrs. Goldberg says, "Oh what lovely children ... How old are they?" Mrs. Feldman replies, "The doctor is 2 and the lawyer is 3."
When I was about 14 years old, I came home from middle school and announced that I wanted to go to a vocational high school. I had seen a film about young men building and doing carpentry work and it really impressed me. My father strongly opposed the idea because he wanted something "better" for me. Nothing more was said. My father's decision was final. It was not until I was in my early twenties that I discovered that I did have a gift and a love for building and working with wood. After I became a believer, I discovered the spiritual dimension of those gifts as well.
God is the author of all that is good. All talents and abilities are His gifts to us. In the movie "Chariots of Fire" the great Scottish sprinter Eric Liddle is called to task by his sister, Jenny. She is worried that Eric's rigorous athletic training is distracting him from God's call to missionary service. Eric is sympathetic but undeterred. He lovingly explains, "Jenny, God made me for China but He also made me fast!" Eric Liddle went to China and died in prison under the Japanese occupation. His testimony shone all the brighter because He fully embraced who God made him to be.
Proverbs 22:6, says, "Train up a child in the way he should go (according to his way), even when he is old he will not depart from it." This is not a promise that if you teach a child right from wrong he will always choose correctly (though the chances are much greater than not). It is an exhortation to ask God for wisdom in understanding the giftings and calling of the young one in order to encourage him in what the Lord has for him in life.
God's purposes for our lives were established even before our conception. In Jeremiah 1:5, the prophet was told that God had drawn up his blue-prints long ago and set him aside for this predetermined purpose. This is the meaning of the words in 6:16 where it is written, "Thus says the Lord, 'Stand by the way and see and ask for the ANCIENT PATHS. Where the good way is, and you will find rest for your soul.'"
This is not some esoteric spiritual technique out of the past, that if we discover it, all our problems will be solved. The ancient paths are those which God intended for each of us since ancient times. The path is ancient in its inception, but current as every breath we take today. This is why Yeshua quotes part of that passage in Matthew 11:28-30. He proclaims that in coming to Him and taking on His yoke, we would find rest for our souls. Too often we carry burdens and walk down paths that are not ours. If He truly is our master, we can ask and trust that He will show us those ancient paths.
What is true of individuals is also applicable to nations, especially to Israel. In Jeremiah 18:15, God's complaint is that Israel has "stumbled from their ways, from the ancient paths, to walk in byways, not on a highway." Instead of treading on the road God has ordained, they have wandered off onto side roads of no value. This is the thrust of Romans 11:29. "The gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable." It is not something to be taken away. It is woven into the very fabric of the nation of Israel. Even as individuals our giftings are the essence of who we are. If you take them away you take away our identity.
Of course, it is in union with the Lord that the gifts find their highest use in the kingdom of God. However, even if not, there can still be a measure of truth and beauty manifested since it was God who bestowed these gifts. Israel has been called of God to reveal Him to the world and be a blessing to all the families of the earth. (Genesis 12:3). Though we have not always been faithful to that mission, there have been a greater proportion of scientists, doctors, musicians, scholars, comedians, writers and Nobel Prize winners from among the Jewish people than any other people group.
Is it any wonder that Romans 11:12,15, says that how much more will the world be blessed when Israel and Yeshua unite and walk those ancient paths together.
|Let us know what you think - why not comment to this article. The authors of these articles are often involved in intense ministry and are thus unable to respond to most comments. As is normal with print and online magazines, Tikkun reserves the right to publish only those comments we feel are edifying in tone and content.|
Also in this issue of the newsletter:
|Dan Juster: Biblical Liberation and Tribalism|
|Marty Shoub: The Miracle that is Tolek|
|David Shishkoff: The Blood Cries out|
|Simcha and Bella Davidov: Declare His Praise in the Coastlands|