Jeremiah 17:5-10 (NRSV)
Verse 5Thus says the Lord: Cursed are those who trust in mere mortals and make mere flesh their strength, whose hearts turn away from the Lord. Verse 6They shall be like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see when relief comes. They shall live in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land. Verse 7Blessed are those who trust in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. Verse 8They shall be like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots by the stream. It shall not fear when heat comes, and its leaves shall stay green; in the year of drought it is not anxious, and it does not cease to bear fruit. Verse 9The heart is devious above all else; it is perverse- who can understand it? Verse 10I the Lord test the mind and search the heart, to give to all according to their ways, according to the fruit of their doings.
When I hiked a section of the Appalachian Trail, I feared taking a wrong path. Fortunately, when I came to a fork in the road, there would be a clear sign directing me down the right path and periodically the trail was marked by white swatches on trees.
Jeremiah describes two ways to live: by following the path of trusting ourselves or trusting God. Unlike the Appalachian Trail, the path of trusting God is not a premarked trail that one merely seeks to conform to, and from which one hopes not to deviate. Instead, God’s imaginative trail blazing creatively sets out a path before us, opening a path through God’s continual mercy, suffering love, and unconditional resolve to be for us. A new path is cleared through whatever failures and disappointments we encounter, as we daily die to our self-direction and live in trusting relationship with God.
Gracious God, help us to trust your imaginative and creative trailblazing. May we die to trusting merely ourselves and may we walk in the path of your love and justice. Amen.