Call them migratory flyways. There are four in North America: Atlantic, Mississippi, Central and Pacific. These distinct flight paths for migratory birds are set by biologists. They were formally set in 1948 by biologists who worked with migratory waterfowl. Even earlier, the Migratory Bird Treaty of 1918, established treaties with Canada and Mexico for the protection of birds that make all three countries their habitat during parts of a year.
Yet, the human recognition of established flight paths for migrating birds is new. The flyways are ancient.
Today, a gusty northwest wind has caused the release of thousands of leaves from nearby ash trees. For every leaf it is the first and final trip to earth. These leaves have come to the place where they perform their second function: to renew the earth as they decay. The annual color change and flutter to earth of millions of deciduous tree leaves is an ancient event.
Yet, seasonal change and bird migration are relatively new.
So is the annual storage of food by squirrels. The seasonal ritual of burying walnuts in the earth by the squirrels has been underway for many days already. Squirrels have responded to the soon to come cold of winter by caching food in the ground for centuries, even millennia. Forests have grown from this rodent behavior.
But squirrels, leaves and birds are not the ancient.
The way of Creator God is truly ancient. But not ancient in a negative, or being ‘out of date’ or antiquated way. God’s ways are both ageless and contemporary. Have you gazed at a fall forest hillside ablaze in color? Have you witnessed the wonderful mystery of a migratory flock of birds overhead? Has your breath ever been taken by the majesty of the thousands of stars in the night sky? Could the ancient ways of One who daily creates such majesty be out of date?
Ancient is a human term. It signifies the passage of a great deal of time. God has no clock. God has no day. God has no calendar. God is not ancient. God is now. God is active. God is all-knowing. We cannot comprehend the majesty that is God’s alone. But, we can trust Him.
When the subject of God comes before us we have two choices. Trust Him and follow His path or refuse and take our own path. It is incredible to think that we humans would ever say to God, “I’ll go my way, not yours.” But we do. We turn from the One who made migration paths, seasons, and the instinct to cache food, and go our way. Almighty God will not force us to walk with Him.
God’s prophet, Jeremiah wrote these invitational words from God. Our two choices are included. He wrote, thus says the Lord: “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’ (Jeremiah 6:16)
The choice seems clear. Ask for the ancient paths. The good way is in them. God has promised rest for our souls.