This is what the Lord says:
“Stand at the crossroads and look;
ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
and you will find rest for your souls.
But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’
Jeremiah 6:16 (NIV)
It is the quintessential legend in the history of the blues. It was 1930. A late teenager named Robert Johnson got up to play in a Mississippi juke joint. No one was impressed. He was told his guitar playing was below average. He played harmonica slightly better.
That night, Robert Johnson disappeared for three years.
Upon his return, the young man had not only improved, he was a master. To many, he had been transformed into the master of the blues. From one of the most famous songs he ever recorded sprung a legend that lives to this day: That Robert Johnson met the devil at the crossroads of highways 49 and 61, where he sold his soul in exchange for becoming the greatest blues man of all time. Here, feel free to give a listen while you read the rest of the post:
Standing at the crossroads is a powerful metaphor. How many times in my life journey have I found myself with multiple roads that lie before me? How many times have I stood in a “crossroads moment” between doing what I know to be right or choosing to do the wrong thing, the destructive thing, the foolish thing, or the defiant thing? I’ve stood at that crossroads countless times, and I have my own stories of choosing both and the consequences of doing so. Buy me a pint or a cup o’ Joe and I’ll be happy to share few with you.
The Cross Road Blues is far older than Robert Johnson, even though he was the one who set it to music and made it famous. In today’s chapter, God speaks through the ancient Hebrew prophet Jeremiah to tell His people to wander out to the Cross Road. Once there, he tells them to find the path that will lead them back.
Back to the time He delivered them from slavery.
Back to the time He provided for them in the wilderness.
Back to the time He protected them from their enemies.
Back to the time He prospered them in the Promised Land.
Long before Jesus had ever shared the story of a man with two sons, God tells His prodigal people to pick themselves up out of the pig slop of their circumstances and hit the road for home.
In the quiet this morning, I think about some of my loved ones and the crossroads of life at which they stand.
My father comes to mind who, after my mother’s death two weeks ago, stands alone at the Cross Road for the first time in 65 years. What will he do with the remaining days God has granted him on this earth?
Our children stare down a myriad of paths that lie in front of them which will determine where they live and what their lives will look like in the coming years. Some of the paths might be blocked. Paths that are currently open don’t seem right.
Friends stand at the Cross Road of career choices, spiritual choices, relational choices, and some who stand at the Cross Road and (as Bob Dylan sang) “now behold this chain-of-events that I must break.”
The truth of Robert Johnson’s legendary story will forever be shrouded in mystery. Such is the stuff of legends. Nevertheless, his lyric on Cross Road Blues seems to fit the story of what God’s people did with their crossroads moment in today’s chapter:
“Standin’ at the crossroad, baby, risin’ sun goin’ down
I believe to my soul, now, poor Bob is sinkin’ down.”
For myself, my friends, and my loved ones standing at a Cross Road today, I pray we find the result that Bob Dylan did in the song I quoted a moment ago:
“In the fury of the moment I can see the Master’s hand,
in every sparrow fallen, in every grain of sand.”
If you know anyone who might be encouraged by today’s post, please share.