Our family did a lot of camping when our kids were young. Yep. Real tent camping. We usually arrived at our destination in the late afternoon and quickly set everything up. Tent, food, chairs near the fire pit. As darkness descended, it was important for everyone to keep a flashlight in their pocket.
Even in state parks the terrain is not smooth. Large rocks, protruding tree roots, and all kinds of other things are in the way. And bugs! It seems like each park has its own unique … uhm … tiny wildlife. These obstacles quickly become stumbling blocks in an unlit path.
Someone always needed to use the restroom in the middle of the night. If it was cloudy, there was zero light outside. Even without the clouds, the canopy of branches often obscured even the moon and stars. Our flashlights became our lifeline. Pointed on the ground, just a tad before our footsteps, the light led us safely to the camp facilities. Occasionally we might see the beady eyes of a critter or two on the way to and from there–usually an armadillo or raccoon. No need to fear though. They kept their distance from the beam of light shining in their direction.
Sometimes life throws us a curve, and we find ourselves in unfamiliar territory. Even if we could see the road, we’re not sure which way to go. We are not alone, however. We have a Guide.
I will lead blind Israel down a new path, guiding them along an unfamiliar way. I will brighten the darkness before them and smooth out the road ahead of them. Yes, I will indeed do these things; I will not forsake them. (Isaiah 42:16)
Light for the Entire World
One festival the Jewish people celebrated was called “The Feast of Tabernacles.” After the harvest was brought in and stored, it was an opportunity for them to thank God for His current provision, and to remember His provision for them during the 40 years they wandered in the desert. At the end of the first day, the temple was spectacularly illuminated with four giant, golden candelabras. The light was so great, it lit all the courts in Jerusalem.1 In the midst of this joyous celebration Jesus declared to the people:
I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life. (John 8:12)
Think about it. The city of Jerusalem was in complete darkness, then, in an instant, illumined with enough light for the entire city. Probably on the heels of this, Jesus tells them that in Him is enough light to illumine the entire world!
I love The Message’s paraphrase of this verse.
Jesus once again addressed them: “I am the world’s Light. No one who follows me stumbles around in the darkness. I provide plenty of light to live in.”
As children, it’s natural for us to be afraid of the dark. Even as adults, darkness brings a measure of fear. When it’s dark we face the unknown–with no hint of discovering what’s hiding.
He is with us. He never leaves us.
I will never fail you. I will never abandon you. (Hebrews 13:5)
He takes us by the hand and leads us as though we are blind. Eventually He opens our eyes and then … the Light of the World dispels the darkness! He may not answer all of our why questions or remove the situation that brought the darkness. But His Presence his Light. Sometimes He provides encouragement from a friend who has already walked the path before us–or is just a few steps ahead.
You’ll probably be reading about my unfamiliar path during the coming months. My two older children will soon be 18. They graduate from high school this year. It’s been delightful to see them mature and become adults. But it’s also challenging as we are in the “letting go” process.
I want to hang on! Part of me wants to go back to the days of walking them to the camp restroom–knowing they are safe with me and my flashlight.
But part of our job as parents is to teach our kids to follow God’s leading–on their own. It’s scary for me to think that maybe I didn’t do a good job of that. The truth is, they will never know for sure until they are on their own. And my flashlight? They need the Light of the World guiding them.
I remember my mom’s words to me, “I don’t always know where you are or what you are doing. But you belong to the Lord, and I trust Him with you.”
The Lord will guide them along their own unlit path, just like He guides me.
Those are words to hang on to.
What unfamiliar way you are facing?
What unlit path must you travel?
Do you feel alone? Are you afraid?
You are not alone! The Light of the World is your Guide on your unlit path!The Light of the World is your Guide on your unlit path!
Image: Pixabay (Unsplash)
1Edersheim, Alfred. The Temple, Its Ministry and Services as They Were at the Time of Jesus Christ. London: James Clarke & Co., 1959.