“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 119.105
We seem to be obsessed with the future these days. Companies have five and ten and twenty year plans. We think our churches should also have five and ten year vision or mission statements. Even for ourselves we want to know the future. We want to know God’s will for our lives.
It’s good to have dreams to a certain extent, and it is definitely good to want my dreams to be in line with God’s dreams for me. But wanting to know or see or understand the future is not always as noble as all that.
Sometimes I want to know the future because I want to know the outcome of a particular trial. “If I just knew what God was doing I’d be okay with all of this.” That’s not actually faith. That’s “knowing the end of the book.” In that case knowing is easier than trusting.
“Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” Romans 8.24,25
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Hebrews 11.1
It is safe to say that Joseph in Genesis and Job in—well—Job and even Mary in Luke did not know how their stories were going to play out.
But God’s word is a lamp to your feet—not a flood lamp for your horizon.
When you are driving through fog at night, the worst thing you can do is turn on your high beams. Your high beam headlights are positioned to cast the light farther out in front of your vehicle, but in the fog they just bounce light off all the particulates floating in the air and make it harder for you to see. You want your low beams or even fog lamps that are positioned lower on the car and light up the road immediately in front of you.
Sometimes we are too busy trying to prepare for the momentous that we forget to be faithful in the moment. What does faith and faithfulness look like right now? In this moment? I don’t have to try to be faithful for the next six years or six months or six days. I am called to faithfulness right now. In the quiet morning hours or evening hours when no one else is awake. In the conversation with my teenage daughter. In this mundane moment of speaking with love to my toddler who is—surprise, surprise—acting like a toddler. In this conversation with a woman at work. In this interaction with my wife. In this decision over another drink, another cookie, another episode, another post, another look, another book (yes, self control sometimes means not buying the next Keller book).
Trusting God means following him with this step and not even worrying about whether I will keep following him with the next twelve steps (see what I did there?). “I’ll never do that again,” is not the repentance God seeks. Never again is too far out there. It’s too dark and foggy and twisted to see. It’s so big and overwhelming that “I’ll never do that again,” practically guarantees I will be doing it again—and soon—because it’s not in me to see that far forward and focusing that far down the long and winding road only makes it harder to see curve right in front of me.
So I light the Lamp and look down at my feet and I take the next step. And then the next step. And sometimes the next step is forward in faithfulness. And sometimes the next step is backward in repentance. And even when it’s backward it’s not starting all over again, but somehow even the backward steps of repentance are moving me forward toward Christ.
I am not pushing the rock of my own righteousness up the hill toward the goal, stumbling and needing to start all over every time the rock rolls back down. I am standing firmly on the rock of Christ’s righteousness, trusting him to complete the work he began in me.
So light the lamp. Use the lamp. Take the next step of faith and this next step of repentance. And soon you’ll be walking cross the floor! (cue the music)
yes. I know. There are some theological holes in the song. Santa is singing it, for crying out loud. What did you expect?