The film Godspeed ends with a verse from the prophet Jeremiah, a verse with 5 commands:
Stand at the crossroads and look,
Ask for the ancient paths
Ask where the good way is,
and walk in it . . . Jeremiah 6:16
“Stand – Look – Ask – Ask – Walk.”
At the first few screenings of Godspeed, people were drawn to these commands – to the ideas of slowing down, finding old paths, discerning forks in the road, and choosing the road less traveled. What was unclear to people was where this path might lead.
Would we abandon our cars, our cell phones, our modern way of life?
Would we pine for greener grass, move to Scotland, and become Colin Presly’s neighbor?
People wanted to know: Where does the ancient path take us?
Then somebody noticed the Jeremiah verse wasn’t finished. If you keep reading, the commands are followed by a promise. Five down-to- earth commands leading to this divine promise:
“Stand – Look – Ask – Ask – Walk . . . and you will find rest for your souls.”
Rest? What kind of rest? Is it simply a slower speed, a sense of well-being, or maybe a rural way of life? No, the rest God promises is that of a child’s. Much more than giving commands, Jeremiah is calling people to receive the gift of becoming God’s children again. Your pilgrimage is not an escape to greener grass. It is an invitation in Christ to be God’s child where you already are. To discover holy nursery ground beneath your feet.
If that sounds childish, or if you are tempted to run past this foundational piece of living at Godspeed so that you can move on to the adult commands of standing – looking – asking – and walking prophetically, please slow down. Godspeed is not a new set of commands to follow, it is a relationship with God to enter. It is a geographical recovery of the places where we enter into relationship with God, our neighbors, and ourselves, places in our own back yards: your home, your church, your study, your glebe. We enter as lost children seeking love, seeking forgiveness, seeking fresh wonder, seeking to become more childlike. Jesus said two things about entering his kingdom. First, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”
“Unless you become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom.” The good news is that your neck of the woods, your neighborhood, isn’t far from the kingdom of God. The bad news is that even on the edge of Narnia, adults often miss the adventure. God’s kingdom is near, but you must become a child to enter.
If you’d like to know more about living @ Godspeed, click here for information about the study guide and video series, and visit www.livegodspeed.org to watch the film (it’s fantastic).
[This post is excerpted from a talk Matt Canlis gave at Hutchmoot 2017.]
Matt grew up in Seattle, was ordained by the Church of Scotland, and now serves as a parish pastor in Wenatchee, Washington. Together with his brother Brian and friend Danny, he filmed a short documentary, Godspeed, about what ministry in Scotland can teach about the pace of being known. He married his childhood sweetheart, Julie, and is now the grateful father of four children.