Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path. (Psalm 119:105)
Our Christian walk is a wonderfully intimate journey with God. It’s a progressive walk, because it’s one of growth and towards maturity. Every day brings new insight, new understanding, and greater wisdom, effecting a gradual but powerful and lasting transformation. There is nothing that can compare to a life lived to walk with God, but it is essentially a life of faith. Every step we take, big or small, is one of faith. Today’s verse reveals this with beautiful simplicity. It provides us with encouragement and assurance but also reminds us we are totally dependent on Him.
When we walk with God, it is always through the darkness.
Jesus prayed that God would not remove us from the world but would protect us in it. While we live on earth, we live in an environment of utter spiritual darkness. Believers and non-believers alike walk with God through and are surrounded by the same darkness. The only difference is that as believers we have an inextinguishable light to guide us.
Having a light doesn’t remove the darkness. It is still something we have to walk through. It is still all around us, and in times of trial or hardship, can seem so utterly black and overwhelming that to take a single step is sometimes the hardest thing we ever have to do. The darkness is a place of danger and deception. Things look different, and darkness hides the face of evil. Discernment is difficult. The way forward isn’t clear, and the pitfalls are masked in shadow. It is a place where death and destruction may be a simple small step away. But those who walk with God have His divine light.
Understanding the purpose of the light is critical in our walk with God.
Christ is both the light in the darkness and the lamp unto our feet and light to our path, but the two have different implications. The light in the darkness is the beacon, the thing to fix our eyes on so that we move in the right direction – rather like the wise men following the star of Bethlehem or the mariners using a particular star to steer by. The light in the darkness is a guide to keep us moving onward. It’s an assurance that at the end of this particular journey in our walk with God, His light is there – fixed, unwavering, and utterly dependable. Like the pillars of cloud and fire for the Israelites, the light in the darkness is our directional guide and assurance of His presence.
The lamp to our feet has an entirely different purpose. It is there to light the path we travel towards the light in the darkness. It’s not there to set our direction but to guide our steps. It’s personal and specifically focused on our particular path – customised to our specific journey. It is the practical, step-by-step application of His guiding and protecting presence. It is a particular trademark of our walk with God, but it is one which requires absolute faith.
Our walk with God is step by step, which makes it faith-based.
Our verse says that the light is for our feet. It’s for the path, not everything else. Our walk with God is never floodlit. Every journey – every tiny step – with Him is unique, and the light we receive is to enable and empower us to walk that particular road. He doesn’t flood us with wisdom and revelation for every single question we may have. There will still be darkness outside the glow of the light which we will need to walk through on another day. But God shines His light on today’s path, providing what we need to accomplish today’s journey.
It requires faith because He doesn’t light up the whole path. He guides every single tiny step in a very close and intimate way. He reveals the pitfalls and dangers of each moment, and shows us where and how to place our feet to avoid them. Faith is characterised by individual steps of obedience. Our natural inclination is to always look ahead, plan ahead, anticipate everything, and put in a backup plan for each possible scenario. When we walk with God, however, He wants us to look ahead only to the light – our direction or course – and to focus on the light which reveals only the next step and trust Him for the rest. That’s faith.
As we walk with God, we learn total dependence on Him.
Our Christian walk is one of ongoing transformation, and it’s one of growing our faith incrementally – each new step adds a little to our faith as we see God’s protection and guidance in action. While He does want us to look ahead to His light, the practical truth of our walk with Him is that we look to where we place our feet and the light He gives for each step. This keeps our eyes off the darkness.
The problem with the darkness is that it is powerful and often overwhelming. Once we begin to look at it, it’s really difficult to see anything else. It crowds in and crowds out the truth of God, and so begins to shift our focus and direction onto the things that will destroy us. Focusing on the darkness means losing sight of the light. Looking too far ahead means the temptation to look at the darkness is very strong. By providing the small light for a single step, God is guiding us to narrow our focus to Him alone. He is, in essence, guiding us to not look at all the things we cannot do but rather to focus on the one thing we can do right now, however small it may seem.
Our walk with God is individual, unique, and specific to our needs.
The wonderful truth about intimacy with Him – about sharing our journey with Him – is that it’s not a ‘one size fits all’ walk with God. There is no generic formula. It’s not the same guided tour that the rest of the world goes on as well. It’s tailor-made for each of us. That’s the assurance that empowers our faith. No matter where we may be on our journey through the darkness, we can be absolutely sure that the light He provides for our next step is perfectly shaped to provide perfect and complete wisdom, discernment, guidance, and protection for that particular moment.
It’s human nature to want the road map, complete with hazards marked and alternative routes highlighted. When we walk with God, however, the great adventure is that we don’t know the destination for that particular leg of the journey. But we do know that He knows, and that He knows down to the minutest detail what we need to get there. While it’s hard, sometimes, to limit our focus to what often feels like a blind step forward, it’s the beginnings of the next level of faith each time we do it. It’s also a wonderful release to know that we don’t have to carry our provisions with us. He provides what we need for each moment. The challenge is to adjust our thinking and our focus, but the rewards are the joy and peace that comes when we walk with God.
His grace is truly wonderful and wise, because when we walk with God, we don’t need to have faith for the entire journey at one time. we only need enough for the next step.
Thank You, Lord, for Your grace which provides all we need, when we need it. Help us to change our attitudes and perceptions, and to fix our eyes on Your light which is our beacon and our step by step provision. Release in us the faith we need to take the next step, to overcome our human need to ‘know everything’ and to rest in the knowledge that You guide our every step as we walk through the darkness of this world.