“They did not obey or incline their ear, but walked in their own coun­sels and the stubbornness of their evil hearts, and went backward and not for­ward.” (Jeremiah 7:24, RSV)

The Christian life is sometimes compared to a journey. On a journey, we are headed toward a destination, and we go forward to arrive there. But in this passage, speaking through the prophet Jeremiah, God talks about his people going backward and not forward. They were walking away from their destination, head­ing back into the darkness of sin and bondage.

Think about this image for a bit. What is sin if not going backward, returning to the urges and desires that only cut us off from God and one another? And what is the result of walking backward? We move away from our destination and lose sight of the heavenly life that is our inher­itance in Christ. On the other hand, what is a life of faith if not one of constantly moving forward, with our eyes fixed on the goal? What is it if not taking the bold step of trusting that God will support us, strengthen us, and fulfill us far more than sin ever could?

So today, when you are faced with temptation, keep the image of moving forward prominent in your mind. Remember that the choice is always yours, whether to take a step backward, away from your goal, or to walk forward, out of the swirling drives and urges that lead to more and more sin. Commit yourself today to continuing on with your journey of trust and love, keeping your eyes fixed on Jesus and his heavenly throne.

Remember, too, that the journey forward is not one you take alone. You are surrounded by the saints and angels. You have the witness, prayer, and support of brothers and sisters in Christ. Even when you feel alone, know that Jesus himself is always with you, “until the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

As this week winds down, take a few moments to examine your jour­ney. Ask if there are any obstacles that you can remove. Is there anything you can do to make your way forward smoother and quicker?

“Lord Jesus, I want to walk with you today. Help me to follow you closer than ever this Lent so that I can reach my goal of union with you more quickly and peacefully.”

Psalm 95:1-2,6-9; Luke 11:14-23