Wednesday, October 7, 2015

31Days - Darkness

When I was growing up, my grandparents had a lake cottage just down the road from us. It wasn't far (maybe 8-10 houses) and we walked and ran between them multiple times a day with the freedom of children at play. I loved spending time at the cottage. Grandpa had a fun sense of humor, a love of life and a love of fishing. I spent many summer evenings in the fishing boat with him. He taught me to catch them and to clean them. Grandma had a knack for cooking up all those fresh fish... and on a good day some lemon meringue pie to boot. It was the perfect childhood. In the evenings my sister and I would frequently hang out at the cottage while my parents visited with our grandparents. I loved just listening. I loved living so close. Until... until it was time to go home. Eventually my parents would indicate it was bedtime and my sister and I were expected to leave the cottage and head to our own home, our own beds (while the grown-ups stayed talking). That's the moment I hated.

Oh, I didn't like leaving the fun, but the real truth of it is I didn't like the walk home. There was a streetlight near my grandparents' cottage. And there was a streetlight near our home. And smack in the middle of those two lights was a stretch of road that seemed oh-so-dark. To make matters worse, that stretch of road had a large, empty lot that was deep, with trees and shadows and woods at the very back. I wasn't the kind of kid that had to have a night light, but there was something about that dark stretch between those two streetlights that terrified me. I would walk so slowly toward the edge of the light I was in. The second my feet left the circle of that lampglow, though, I'd break into a sprint and run for all I was worth through that dark stretch. Then I'd pull up, gasping for air, once I hit the light near our end of the street. Years later, my sister and I compared stories and realized we'd both been scared of that stretch, but neither of us had ever said a word to each other about it.

As I was walking through some of those same woods yesterday I reflected on how there was no sense of fear as I enjoyed my meandering, just peace... comfort... contentment... and rest. And then I realized... it'd be different if it were dark.

No, I'm not really scared of someone jumping out at me. Not usually, anyway. And I'm not even really too awfully nervous about some wild creature in the night. It's northeast Indiana, not the wilds of Alaska or the African bush. Most anything in those woods is going to want to avoid me, not eat me. But it would be different if it were dark. I wouldn't be at rest. I'd be on high alert. Why? Because I couldn't see. And if I can't see, I have a greater propensity to hurt myself. Let's face it, I have stubbed (and broken) my toe on the sofa, the bed, and a high chair all in broad daylight. You throw in a dark room and I walk very slowly, shuffling my feet, holding my arms out in front of me trying to feel for the furniture (or a toy left on the floor). In the woods, add to my worries a low-hanging branch, a rock that rolls under my foot, a body of water I can't see, not to mention not being able to see the path and where I'm supposed to be going. So yeah, in the light of day I was enjoying my walk... in the dark of a moonless and starless night? Not so much.

So my fear for Day Four:

I am afraid of walking in the dark.

It's a real fear... with some valid reasons behind it. History – my history – proves it can be dangerous. So there's some truth in the fear. But what's the real Truth? Truth with a capital T?

Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path.

(Psalm 119:105 - NASB)

Yeah. I went there. I left the physical and went to the spiritual. But how often do I stumble around in the dark without reaching for the light? Here's the deal: most of us know that scripture. Many of us probably even have Amy Grant's voice echoing in our heads at the moment. But let's really look at it. Not just that little snippet, but the whole of what the psalmist was talking about. I'm not going to quote the entirety. Honestly, I thought I could just pull out the surrounding verses. But then I realized the theme runs through the entire chapter. And it's the longest chapter in the Bible.

I did little research and found that the psalm is actually an acrostic poem. There are 22 stanzas – each set of 8 couplets beginning with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet (it only has 22). So the first stanza begins with Aleph (=A), and the next with Beth (=B) and so on. And of those 176 couplets, only 3-5 of them do not directly reference God's word in some manner. No wonder I can't make myself just pull a small section – this is LITERALLY the A to Z of God's word!

I really recommend you take some time and really read through Psalm 119 yourself. But the gist of what the psalmist is telling us is that God's word is good and true. The psalmist speaks of how instrumental God's word is in his life – bringing him joy, and purity, and right relationship with God. That leads to boldness and security in the face of adversity. It makes him wiser than his enemies – and wiser than his teachers, even!

O how I love Your law!
It is my meditation all the day.
Your commandments make me wiser than my enemies,
For they are ever mine.
I have more insight than all my teachers,
For Your testimonies are my meditation.
I understand more than the aged,
Because I have observed Your precepts.
I have restrained my feet from every evil way,
That I may keep Your word.
I have not turned aside from Your ordinances,
For You Yourself have taught me.
How sweet are Your words to my taste!
Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
From Your precepts I get understanding;
Therefore I hate every false way.
Psalm 119:97-104 (NASB)

God's word causes him see things others don't see.

He has a light! And he's using it.

This isn't the kind of knowledge that comes from opening the Bible when we're in trouble. It comes from being in the Word daily.

Sometimes in the middle of the night I think I'm okay in the dark. My bathroom is only a few steps from the bedroom and I know the way. I don't reach for the light switch even though it's readily available. Sometimes I really am okay. Sometimes... I trip over the shoe I left at the foot of the bed or misjudge and walk into the doorframe rather than the door (yes, it happens!). And sometimes... if I'm honest and authentic with you all... I have to admit I think I'm okay spiritually, too. I think, "Oh, I know what the Bible says about that... I've grown up in church and know those stories like the back of my hand." But you know what? Can I admit something? Over the past 6 days of really looking at what His word has to say about some of my fears, I've seen things that I hadn't really seen before... or they've hit me differently than they have before... or I've put together a couple of verses that I hadn't really seen together before. I've seen new light from a lamp that, quite frankly, I kind of took for granted... had let get a little dusty, even.

One more thought... sometimes the reason I don't turn on the light is I think I'm okay. But sometimes... sometimes the reason is that I don't want someone else to see me. Just a thought that makes me go "hmmm...."

Father God, I don't want to walk in the dark when there's light readily available. I want to love your word like the psalmist did. Father, I confess that sometimes the path seems so familiar that I don't reach for the light. Sometimes life gets so busy that I don't take time to reach for the map. I think I know where I'm going; I've got this. And I don't even realize I'm walking in the dark. Forgive me. And open my eyes.

Fear: I am afraid of walking in the dark.

Truth: God's word is a light on our path; causes us to see things that others don't see.
(Psalm 119)


Note: This post is part of a 31-day writing challenge. Click here to see the rest of the posts on my 31 Days of Fear (and Truth).

No comments:

Post a Comment