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Out Our Way: The well-used trail is the best

Psalm 119: 105


Out our way, when Charlie and I were pushing beeves up on the Tiger Ridge, I noticed that cattle tend to make and use trails, and, just about always, those trails are the best routes to get from point A to point B. I suspect many of those trails have been there for generations of cattle and are constantly used because they have proven to be the best way to go.

One of the reasons we study history is so that we can learn from those who went before what are the best "trails." Each generation builds on what others learned before them and passed on. It is a building process with each generation adding to what previous generations gave them.

Of course, in every generation there are the foolish and empty-headed clowns who assume that anyone over the age of 30 is out of touch and nothing of the past has any value today. Even Socrates complained about air-head youths in his day who scoffed at the wisdom of the past as antiquated and out of date. Some things never change.

But cattle seem brighter than some college profs and their disciples I have known, for they don't think they have to reject the old trails just because they are the old trails - and certainly not if they are still the best routes to get where you are going. Maybe we can take a lesson from the herd and consider that some tried and true practices still are helpful even if they are old. And being new to the Ridge, I found those same trails were useful to me and Goliath in getting from place to place as well. I only had to discover them to benefit from them.

Now, for many centuries, Christians have been using some tried and true tools in deepening their spiritual lives and deepening their faith. I confess, I never heard of some of these tools in church, for, sadly in our modern times, the Church has forgotten or ignored them. I number of years ago I was introduced to some of the "old trails" and began to discover their value to my own spiritual growth. This has been especially helpful during this dry spell I have been enduring for the past few years.

Recently, I discovered in my library a book written in the 17th century by a French woman who spiritual faith and strength inspired many in her own day, and went on to inspire later great spiritual giants like John Wesley and Watchman Nee. But how many modern know who Watchman Nee is? Or John Wesley? That is what comes from losing the trails.

Anyway, what this little book is designed to do is to help all of us, beginners, new converts and even us slackers, to draw closer to Christ and experience His Presence. Other books have been written on this as well, but there are some similarities in all of then for they are all traveling the same old trail blazed over 2,000 years of following Christ.

I will just mention one of the first steps that is recommended and that is called " spiritual reading." It also called "Lectio Divina." It is a way of reading scripture or other spiritual writings. Many times when reading the Bible, I set a goal of reading a number of chapters and I read to "get to the point." I fear I skim. The authoress of this book compares it to the honey bee who merely skims the surface of the flower compared to the one who goes deep inside to get the pollen. It takes longer, but the benefit is well worth it.

So, she suggests we read slowly, no skimming, and not to quickly get the point of the chapter, but to place ourselves within it. The moment a verse or a word strikes your consciousness, stop. Take time to think about what it is you just read and why it impacted you. Forget the chapter, focus on the word or phrase, just try to explore what you read and why it touched you. Pray and ask God what He is telling you. She suggests that even if you spend an hour with this method, chances are you will only manage a few verses. But you will be deeply enriched.

I confess I am impatient and want to get to the bottom of the page, reading scripture too often like a novel. How much do I miss? How much more could I have found? What greater blessing was awaiting?

I would not suggest attempting to spend an hour at first, but try 15 minutes. Try following this ancient trail that so many others have found to be the good and easy route to draw closer to Christ and deepen their faith. Who says we can't be like them as well? Follow the trail that has been used and found excellent all these years. See you on the way, Pard.


John Bruington and "Doc" Goliath invite all to ride along as we seek follow the Way by exploring the old trails.


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