Friday, 14 July 2017

A Lamp to my Feet.

Having a break in Thailand with both sun and warm rain I was reminded of a time in my past when certain types of exercise were part of my life. Not just wanders around shops or around ruins in the sun or with an umbrella at the ready. Sometimes I ran or jogged would actually be a better description. This was in the dark, in the winter, when the sun comes up so late that a morning run nearly always begins in darkness. When I shifted to warmer climes I did all my jogging early, before the day got too hot. Sometimes I jogged before the sun had begun to rise, either because my schedule demanded it or because it was already warmer than I liked, and I wanted to finish early.

Often the path I covered had no streetlights, so when it was dark I needed a lamp of some kind. These have changed and developed over the years. At one stage I tried wearing one of those (very dorky) little forehead lights that attaches around your head with an elastic strap. As soon as the morning sky gives enough light for one to see without the lamp, you take it off and carry it the rest of the way (thereby reducing the dork factor, should you be seen by anyone you knew). I found the same headlight helpful when bushwalking into the night or making early starts up mountains.

The headlamp gave me freedom to run without fear of falling over a speed bump or tree root, ensured that drivers could see me when I crossed a street, and enabled me to exercise when otherwise I’d be stuck at home. These days and this generation in this country aren’t much accustomed to the darkness. Unless the power is out, we merely have to flick a switch and the lights come on. What a luxury.

Even so, being in the dark, figuratively, is part of the human condition. We never know just what’s coming next. Even less do we know what the distant future holds. We plan our schooling, imagine what job we’ll have, look for long-term relationships, save for retirement. I am confident in saying that no one’s life has ever turned out exactly how they’d imagined it when they were young.

Because we are in the dark about what’s coming, we need lights. People to whom we can go for advice or help. Friends who encourage us. Family who are our home even when we’re far away. For Christians, our light is our God, who never leaves our side. These lights help us find our way. Alone on an unlit pathway, we trip over our own feet, find ourselves in unsafe situations, grope in the darkness.

With the light of God’s presence, we are less afraid, surer of our footsteps, secure that we are headed in the right general direction. We find in Psalm 119 the words “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path,” to encourage us and bring us hope. We run in the dark, but not alone. With light, we begin to see with growing clarity what was there all along: purpose, meaning, love, faith, hope. As the pathway continues to unfold before us, every switchback brings something new and unforeseen. Around every turn, God is already there, holding the lamp.

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