“Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.” (Psalm 119:105 NLT)
The image in this verse is one I’ve always found comforting.
Life can be complicated, and it can be hard to see the way forward at times. What better than a guide who knows the way, who walks by our side, who illuminates the path ahead of us?
We may wish his guidance was clearer at times and we may wish that we could see further along the path instead of only seeing the next step or two, but still it’s comforting to know that God is with us and promises to direct us. There’s a safety in that truth…
…but there’s also a danger…
…because the darkness is deep, and enemies are lurking in the shadows. They would love to pull us off course, to draw us away from the path, to convince us that we’re wrong to walk by the light of God’s Word, and that the darkness is better.
The danger is that when we’re walking in the light there’s nowhere to hide. People can see that we’re walking a path that is different from everyone else, and that’s not always going to be popular. In many ways it’s setting ourselves up for attack.
The temptation can be to give in, to compromise, to allow ourselves to be lured away from God’s path by the false lights of our culture and, as far as I can see, it’s a pressure that seems to be increasing.
But then I wonder, was it ever really any different?
As the Psalm goes on, I see that the image I had of someone skipping through the darkness, sure-footed and confident, could not be further from the truth.
“My life constantly hangs in the balance, but I will not stop obeying your instructions.
The wicked have set their traps for me, but I will not turn from your commandments.
Your laws are my treasure, my heart’s delight.
I am determined to keep your decrees to the very end.” (Psalm 119:109-112 NLT)
Staying on the path has always been a risky business, and it has always meant opposition. It has never been an easy road.
What strikes me is the Psalmist’s determination. He may be facing trials and opposition, but he resolves to stay true to God’s Word and reminds himself of why it is important, and that is where he finds the strength to keep going.
So, how do we do the same?
We need to make the same intentional choice and we need the same determination, but how do we practically hold onto God’s Word?
First, and most obviously, we need to know it! We need to read it daily and remember it. Culture shouts its messages over us each day, so we have to be intentional about tuning in to the still, small voice of God’s truth.
I’m always challenged by Moses’ words to the Israelites as they prepare to enter the Promised Land:
“And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” (Deuteronomy 6:6-9 NLT)
That is commitment to God’s Word!
We may not actually tie his words to our hands and foreheads, but there are other ways we can remind ourselves- having verses displayed around our homes, listening to worship music as we travel, setting reminders on our phones, being intentional about discussing God’s Word with others.
Secondly, we need to submit to it. There will be parts of the Bible we struggle to understand or find difficult to interpret and we need to be able to talk about those, to ask questions and discuss them without judging one another. Ultimately though, we need to acknowledge that God knows best, and that his Word is a higher authority than either culture’s wisdom, or our own ideas.
I like how Gregory Coles puts it: “If we truly love Scripture, we have to love it enough to let it prove us wrong.”
Thirdly, we need to obey it. Saying we believe is one thing, but it is our actions that show what we truly believe.
None of this is easy. That’s why we need one another- for prayer, for support, to remind us of the truth and the commitment we’ve made, to call us back if we’re drifting away.
We also need to remember that although the path we’re called to walk may be a difficult and dangerous one at times, it is never a path we have to walk alone, and ultimately, it is the way to life.
We do not need to fear the darkness because we know the light will triumph in the end.