Antiquarian Anabaptist

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

The loneliness of the pathfinder

Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. Isaiah 6:16

We have joined a grand throng of pilgrims and strangers, wending our way through a wilderness where we have never gone before, on our way to a city we have not seen. Multitudes have passed this way before us, generation after generation, for hundreds of years.

At first there is much rejoicing and the signposts that mark the way can be seen clearly. Yet it seems to happen once every generation that we become aware that we have not seen any signposts for some time. The majority are certain that we are on the right way, we have not changed direction. Others begin to murmur and express doubts whether we are still on the old path. Some become convinced that the throng has lost the way  and venture off to search the wilderness for signs of the right path.

Soon they are back, claiming to have found evidence of the true path to the celestial city. But each one has a different story of where that path is. There is much discussion and disagreement but eventually little groups of people venture off this way and that and are never seen again.

But there are a few who have gone back to find the old signposts and then searched for the ones that should have been there to mark the pathway from that point on. They find them, damaged, broken down and easy to ignore. They set to work to repair them and go back to tell the others that the old pathway has been found. Some laugh, most are doubtful, but a few follow and are convinced that the old pathway has once more been found. Little by little, others are convinced and join them and soon there is once again a great multitude walking on the ancient pathway.

Every generation needs its pathfinders to seek for the old ways by which pilgrims have made their way to the celestial city. But let the pathfinder stick to finding the ancient landmarks and making them visible once more so that others can safely find their way. If they begin to criticize those who won’t listen, accuse their leaders of deceiving the multitude, or declare that they want nothing to do with such stubborn people, they will not draw anyone to the true way.

They are pathfinders. It is not their responsibility to force others to follow the path, but simply to make sure that the way is clearly marked so that others can follow it.

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