Old Barns

Driving up Idaho’s Highway 55, I am always heartened by the stalwart greeting of old barns. Some dilapidated, some fallen down, some still standing proud, they are weather-worn grey or faded red, or green, some more newly painted. Metal roofs seem the standard covering in this part of snow country. For these higher mountain meadows are lush pasturelands for Black Angus and Hereford cattle. There may be other breeds here, but the black, and the reddish brown-and-white, I recognize from my childhood, and from years traveling this highway.

Jeremiah 6:16 states: 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.’”

I love this verse. To me it is God’s admonition to hold on to the old ways, to remember and learn, to cherish and treasure those priceless gifts we have been given. More importantly, to cling to and walk in the path the Shepherd calls us to follow, with Him. For He truly is the only One who can lead us to that perfect peace for which we long. Man-made old barns remind me of this passage. They represent the foundational things, the hard work of one’s hands, the fruit of the earth, shelter and care, hopes and dreams.

Yet, as the last verse of Jeremiah 6:16 records, the pride, self-centeredness, and rebellion of man against God still remains. As life and our culture seem to be accelerating at warp speed, our children and grandchildren being taught progressively diluted values, and the disruption of peace in our world and nation more and more unsettling, it behooves us to take heed to God’s admonition to us through Jeremiah. For though He uttered those words thousands of years ago, God does not change. His words do not change. His character does not change. His commandments do not change. God is the ONLY aspect of life that does not change!

Why do we fight so to try to find that “better way,” when the best way, the good way has already been provided and shown? Like the people of old, we are stiff-necked, willful, and full of pride. Over and over again we must learn the same lessons. The Bible is full of the truths of life. It shows the good, the bad and the ugly. Yet beyond all our willful turning away from God and His assurance that His way is best and good, we still insist on doing it our way.

Like old barns, we are here for the duration, meant to stand strong and serve a goodly function. If our foundation is weak, if our support system is rotten, if our covering is flimsy we will not withstand the storms, the pressures of life, the tests of time. Ask anyone who has fallen on his face through failed self-effort; some were toppled because of their selfishness and pride. Those old barns that still stand were built on tried and true foundations. The builders paid attention, building in ways that would assure strong purpose for their barns, fruit for their efforts. They “walked in the old” proven ways that led to strong buildings.

It is a sad day when an old barn falls, or a newer one for that matter. For all that it represents has become part of the landscape, a silent guidepost along the way to those times of yore. It shouts, “Remember when!” and wraps our memories, hopefully, in towels of baked bread, homemade pie, warm fireplaces, and the ideals of life we’ve lived, or long for. For those promises will one day be completely fulfilled, in that grand place called heaven! “Stand in the ways and see, and look for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls.”

I have found returning to those old familiar places, the things in which I am grounded and rooted, growing more deeply in the verdant soil of God’s nourishment and care through dependency and faith in His Word, is where the peace that passes all understanding is found. No need to be fancy or gilded, young and super fit, without blemish or wrinkle, I can be like those old barns, stalwart and secure, a place of refuge and warmth, a place of peace. With God, my Maker and Master Builder, I can rest in the assurance He will craft me to be a dwelling place of His Spirit that He wants me to be. Like an old barn, may my life reflect the strong shelter He remains for me.

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