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Confirmation Crossroads

In the closing scene of the movie Cast Away, Tom Hanks’s character is standing at a crossroads in Texas. After being stranded alone on an island for four years, he has returned to civilization to find that he has been declared dead and his girlfriend has moved on and gotten married to another man. As the movie ends, Hanks’s character is at a crossroads (both literally and figuratively) and needs to decide what direction he is going to take in his life.

We too face “crossroads” moments throughout our lives. After high school, graduates need to begin making decisions about careers and/or college. After dating someone for many months, you reach that crossroads in your relationship and begin to wonder, “Is this the one?”

This spring, many young teenagers in our congregations will be faced with a crossroads moment in their lives. As infants and children, their Christian parents had them baptized into Christ and raised in the Christian faith. Their pastor used Luther’s Small Catechism to teach them about the Christian faith and Jesus as their Savior. Now they are asked to “confirm” whether they believe what they have been taught is true and whether they intend, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to remain faithful to these teachings throughout their lives.

This “confirmation crossroads” is not intended to be a one-time event for our fourteen-year-old members. In Jeremiah, the Lord urges us all to regularly examine the path we are on: “Stand in the ways and see, And ask for the old paths, where the good way is, And walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls.” (Jeremiah 6:16) As exciting as “new” things can be, as Bible-believing Christians we are to stand in the crossroads and ask for the “old paths.” The Lord says the “old path” is the “good way” in which you will find “rest for your souls.”

Standing at the crossroads with our confirmands, we can follow the “old paths” of our Christian faith and confession back to Martin Luther. Luther followed the “old paths” in Scripture back to the Apostle Paul who taught that we are made right with God not by our works, but through faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 3:21-22). The Apostle Paul was at a crossroads with the popular teachings of Judaism of his day, but he followed the “old paths” back to Abraham, whose faith in the promises of God was credited to him as righteousness (Genesis 15:6, Romans 4:3,5). And wherein lay Abraham’s faith? In the “old paths” that went back to the Garden of Eden and God’s very first promise of a Savior from the Seed of the woman (Genesis 3:15).

As our confirmands are being examined and give their confirmation vows, imagine them standing at a crossroads with a long, well-worn path before them. As you hear them confessing publicly the same Christian faith to which you hold, imagine yourself further on down that same old path. Further down the “old path” you see Christian parents and grandparents, Martin Luther, the Apostle Paul, Abraham, and Eve.

Where is this “old path” leading? You know, because as you have walked this old path, you have heard Jesus tell you that He is the only Way to the Father. This old path is leading to heaven. Like a trailblazer, Jesus has cleared out all the obstacles of your sin and is leading you by His Word on this path to Paradise. Through His Word and Lord’s Supper, Jesus Himself is feeding you, giving you the strength to continue on this “good way.” On this “old path” you find “rest for your souls,” because Jesus is forgiving your sins and giving you the gift of eternal life.

As our confirmands stand at this important crossroads in their faith, pray for them by name. Pray that, together with you, they may remain on this “old path” all the days of their lives as Jesus leads all His believers to eternal life in heaven. May God grant it for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Nathan Pfeiffer is pastor of Berea Lutheran Church in Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota.